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Description: People can explain phenomena by appealing to temporal relations, e.g., you might explain a colleague’s absence at a meeting by inferring that their prior meeting ended late. Previous explanatory reasoning research shows that people construct causal explanations to resolve causal conflicts. Accordingly, temporal explanations may help reasoners resolve temporal conflicts, and we describe four experimental tests of the hypothesis (N = 240). Experiment 1 provided participants with conflicting or consistent temporal information and elicited natural responses about what followed. Participants spontaneously provided temporal explanations to resolve inconsistencies, and only a minority of them provided more conservative, direct refutations. Experiments 2 and 3 showed that participants preferred temporal explanations over simpler refutations to resolve conflicts, and Experiment 4 showed that participants judged temporal explanations more probable than refutations, and thereby yielded a novel class of conjunction fallacies. The research is the first to examine patterns in temporal explanatory reasoning.


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