Major Processes Involved in Spontaneous Analogical Reasoning
When one examines the literature on creativity in science, one of the first topics one encounters is analogical reasoning. The quote from Einstein and Infeld on the preceding page captures the respect that some prominent scientists have for the role of analogies. Investigators such as Campbell (1920); Dreistadt (1969); Gentner (1982); Hesse (1966); Einstein and Infeld (1967) have argued that analogies can play an important role in the creation of new theoretical hypotheses. In some cases these hypotheses can become established analogue models, such as the “billiard ball” model for gases. Most of this work has been at a philosophical level or is based on retrospective reports of scientists. However, the present study aims to provide an initial body of more direct evidence from “live” think-aloud protocols that capture scientists in the act of analogical reasoning as it occurs. Other literature on the role of analogy in constructing scientific models will be reviewed in Chapter 6. Historically, in psychology and education, analogical reasoning has long been suspected of being important in both the learning of scientific models and in the transfer of this learned knowledge to new, unfamiliar problems (diSessa, 1983, 1985; Rumelhart and Norman, 1981; VanLehn and Brown, 1980; Vosniadou and Ortony, 1989). A full issue on the role of analogy in science teaching appeared in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (vol. 30, issue 10). Again historically, investigators have long ascribed an important role to analogical reasoning in problem solving (Dunker, 1945; Gick and Holyoak, 1980; Polya, 1954; Schon, 1981; Wertheimer, 1959), measures of intelligence (Sternberg, 1977), and the development of concepts (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980). Thus there has been recognition for some time of the importance of analogical reasoning in advanced cognition.
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