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Conversational Processes and Causal Explanation

Conversational Processes and Causal Explanation Causal explanation takes place in and takes the form of conversation. Explanations are selected by questions and are thus governed by general rules of discourse. A conversational model of causal explanation is introduced that explicates social aspects of the explanation process by postulating that good explanations must be relevant to the focus of a why question, as well as being true. The notion of explanatory relevance enables an integration of the major models of the attribution process by showing that they use the same counterfactual logic but address different causal questions. The conversational perspective suggests a reinterpretation of many attributional biases, and also highlights the role of interpersonal goals in generating implicit questions, which in turn constrain explanations. Finally, the relevance of the conversational perspective for research on causal networks, the social context of explanation, and intrapsychic explanation is noted. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Psychological Bulletin American Psychological Association

Conversational Processes and Causal Explanation

Psychological Bulletin , Volume 107 (1): 17 – Jan 1, 1990

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References (113)

Publisher
American Psychological Association
Copyright
Copyright © 1990 American Psychological Association
ISSN
0033-2909
eISSN
1939-1455
DOI
10.1037/0033-2909.107.1.65
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Causal explanation takes place in and takes the form of conversation. Explanations are selected by questions and are thus governed by general rules of discourse. A conversational model of causal explanation is introduced that explicates social aspects of the explanation process by postulating that good explanations must be relevant to the focus of a why question, as well as being true. The notion of explanatory relevance enables an integration of the major models of the attribution process by showing that they use the same counterfactual logic but address different causal questions. The conversational perspective suggests a reinterpretation of many attributional biases, and also highlights the role of interpersonal goals in generating implicit questions, which in turn constrain explanations. Finally, the relevance of the conversational perspective for research on causal networks, the social context of explanation, and intrapsychic explanation is noted.

Journal

Psychological BulletinAmerican Psychological Association

Published: Jan 1, 1990

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