Examining the specificity of the seductive allure effect


Previous work has found that people feel significantly more satisfied with explanations of psychological phenomena when those explanations contain neuroscience information — even when this information is entirely irrelevant to the logic of the explanations. This seductive allure effect was first demonstrated by Weisberg, Keil, Goodstein, Rawson, & Gray (2008), and has since been replicated several times in independent labs (e.g., Fernandez-Duque, Evans, Christian, & Hodges, 2014; Rhodes, Rodriguez, & Shah, 2014; Weisberg, Taylor, & Hopkins, 2015). However, these studies only examined psychological explanations with added neuroscience information. The current study thus investigated the generality of this effect and found that the seductive allure effect occurs across several scientific disciplines whenever the explanations include reference to smaller components or more fundamental processes. These data suggest that people have a general preference for reductive explanations.

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