Editors' ChoicePsychology

The persuasiveness of reductionism

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Science  12 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6300, pp. 661-662
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6300.661-b

A decade ago, it seemed as though every other neuroscience paper in high-profile journals featured multiple multicolored images of brain scans. In some cases, readers—many of whom were psychologists who had written papers on the same topic—pointed out that the pictographic scans added little explanatory power. Hopkins et al. have extended an earlier study of the relative impact of psychology and neuroscience to encompass both more reductive disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, and biology, and less reductive disciplines, such as social science. They find that study subjects judge scientific explanations to be of higher quality when they contain information from the neighboring more reductive field, even when that information is irrelevant.

Cognition 155, 67 (2016).

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