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ERIC Number: EJ1008119
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-May
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 23
ISSN: ISSN-0096-3445
Steps, Stages, and Structure: Finding Compensatory Order in Scientific Theories
Rutjens, Bastiaan T.; van Harreveld, Frenk; van der Pligt, Joop; Kreemers, Loes M.; Noordewier, Marret K.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, v142 n2 p313-318 May 2013
Stage theories are prominent and controversial in science. One possible reason for their appeal is that they provide order and predictability. Participants in Experiment 1 rated stage theories as more orderly and predictable (but less credible) than continuum theories. In Experiments 2-5, we showed that order threats increase the appeal of stage theories of grief (Experiment 2) and moral development (Experiments 4 and 5). Experiment 3 yielded similar results for a stage theory on Alzheimer's disease characterized by predictable decline, suggesting that preference for stage theories is independent of valence. Experiment 4 showed that the effect of threat on theory preference was mediated by the motivated perception of order, and Experiment 5 revealed that it is particularly the fixed order of stages that increases their appeal. (Contains 4 tables and 6 footnotes.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A