Evaluating theoretical predictions in the social sciences: Coalition theories and other models

J. Keith Murnighan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This paper addresses the issue of how a researcher might evaluate the accuracy of theoretical predictions in the social sciences. Using theories of coalition systems as an example of specific and apparently easily testable models, the paper argues that judgment of the absolute accuracy of a prediction remains a value judgment. In addition, a strict value judgment can potentially lead to the rejection of a theory and its underlying assumptions even when those assumptions may have, at the very least, considerable heuristic value. While most models in the social sciences would benefit from greater specificity in their predictions, the general thrust of specific coalition models would benefit from greater attention. Combining a general conceptual structure with a set of specific, falsifiable predictions makes for excellent theory and potentially greater research progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-130
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1982


  • accuracy
  • coalition theory
  • decider subsystem
  • group
  • organization
  • society
  • supranational system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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