Effects of Comparison and Explanation on Analogical Transfer

Brian EdwardsNorthwestern University
Joseph WilliamsStanford University
Dedre GentnerNorthwestern University
Tania LombrozoUC Berkeley


Although comparison and explanation have typically been studied independently, recent work suggests connections between these processes. Three experiments investigated effects of comparison and explanation on analogical problem solving. In Experiment 1, explaining the solutions to two analogous stories increased spontaneous transfer to an analogical problem. In Experiment 2, explaining a single story promoted analogical transfer, but only after receiving a hint that may have facilitated comparison. In Experiment 3, irrelevant stories were interspersed among the two story analogs to block unprompted comparison; prompts to compare were effective, but prompts to explain were not. This pattern suggests that effects of explanation on analogical transfer may be greatest when combined with comparison.


Effects of Comparison and Explanation on Analogical Transfer (279 KB)

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