Explanations make inconsistencies harder to detect


What role do explanations play in reasoning about inconsistencies? We postulate that when people create explanations, they use them to resolve conflicting information. This hypothesis predicts that inconsistencies should be harder to detect once individuals have in mind an explanation of the inconsistency. We report four experiments that tested this prediction. Experiments 1a and 1b corroborated the effect when participants made inferences from inconsistent assertions. Experiment 2 compared the effect of explanations of inconsistencies with those of a similarly demanding task. Experiment 3 ruled out a potential confound.

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