Effects of Comparison and Explanation on Analogical Transfer

Brian Edwards, Joseph Williams, Dedre Gentner, Tania Lombrozo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


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.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
EditorsPaul Bello, Marcello Guarini, Marjorie McShane, Bian Scassellati
PublisherCognitive Science Society
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)978-0-9911967-0-8
StatePublished - 2014

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