How do social scientists reach causal inferences? A study of reception

Alejandro Avenburg*, John Gerring, Jason Seawright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we outline a new area of research, social science reception: how inferences are reached by social scientists. Specifically, we ask how the nature of the evidence affects the sort of causal inferences that social scientists draw. As an exemplar, we focus on multimethod research. Specifically, we subject respondents to an experiment in which each species of evidence constitutes a distinct treatment: (a) qualitative, (b) quantitative, or (c) multimethod. In the abstract, respondents tend to reflect widespread methodological norms about the strengths of multimethod research. However, when confronted with specific studies, scholars are not more likely to believe causal inferences backed by multimethod research than inferences backed by mono-method research. This suggests that there is a misalignment between methodological norms and on-the-ground judgments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalQuality and Quantity
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Causal inference
  • Methodology
  • Methods
  • Multimethod
  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Social Sciences(all)


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