How Do Scientists Respond to Anomalies? Different Strategies Used in Basic and Applied Science
Article first published online: 26 JUN 2009
Copyright © 2009 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Topics in Cognitive Science
Volume 1, Issue 4, pages 711–729, October 2009
How to Cite
Trickett, S. B., Trafton, J. G. and Schunn, C. D. (2009), How Do Scientists Respond to Anomalies? Different Strategies Used in Basic and Applied Science. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1: 711–729. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2009.01036.x
- Issue published online: 12 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 26 JUN 2009
- Received 10 July 2008; received in revised form 23 March 2009; accepted 5 May 2009
- Diagrammatic reasoning;
- Mental models;
- Mental simulation;
- Scientific reasoning;
- Causal reasoning
We conducted two in vivo studies to explore how scientists respond to anomalies. Based on prior research, we identify three candidate strategies: mental simulation, mental manipulation of an image, and comparison between images. In Study 1, we compared experts in basic and applied domains (physics and meteorology). We found that the basic scientists used mental simulation to resolve an anomaly, whereas applied science practitioners mentally manipulated the image. In Study 2, we compared novice and expert meteorologists. We found that unlike experts, novices used comparison to address anomalies. We discuss the nature of expertise in the two kinds of science, the relationship between the type of science and the task performed, and the relationship of the strategies investigated to scientific creativity.