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Assignment Questions

Differences between prediction and theoretical explanation

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Discuss the differences between prediction and theoretical explanation.

Prediction theory suggests or predicts that an occurrence will occur. A ‘prediction’ makes an assumption of what is likely to happen in the future, based on past experiences, an educated guess, or on any combination of the two. Prediction theory however, holds less logical power than other theories (i.e. explanation theory) because it does not explain why an event will occur. Furthermore, predications are often made in explanations. In this way, there may be several explanations for the same predication.

An explanation may be a theoretical explanation which is a “logical argument that explains why something occurs” (Kreuger and Neuman, 2006, p. 55), and links a theories concepts. Explanations may also be used to make something easier to understand; this is referred to as an ‘ordinary explanation’ (Kreuger and Neuman, 2006). The two may occur at the same time when a theoretical explanation is described in a way that illustrates it in a clear and intelligible manner. Theoretical explanations are believed to hold greater logical power because they provide a more ‘concrete’ explanation of why something occurs.

2. What are the three conditions for causality?

The three conditions of causality are: temporal orders, association and elimination of plausible alternatives. In reference to the text, we concluded that:

The temporal order condition has been met if it has been determined that the cause takes place before the effect. In doing so, “this eliminates from consideration potential causes that occurred later in time” (Kreuger and Neuman, 2006, p. 56). Simplified, temporal orders mean “that a cause must come before and effect” (Kreugar and Newman, 2006, p. 57).

Association implies that “two phenomena are associated if they occur together in a patterned way or appear to act together” (Kreugar and Newman, 2006, p. 57); causal relationship. As noted in our group, this could also be internalized as “the process of elimination of all other possible causes to a certain end”.

Elimination of plausible alternatives “means that a researcher interested in causalityneeds to show that the effect is due to the causal variable and not to something else” (Kreugar and Newman, 2006, p. 58).

3. Why do researchers use diagrams to show causality?

Collectively, we felt researchers use diagrams to show causality because diagrams act as visual aids useful in demonstrating theoretical relationships. Because humans are visual beings, diagrams are a useful method to aid in the development of our understandings. As outlined by one member, according to Kreuger and Neuman (2006), diagrams of causal relationships are used for the purpose of conveying a basic picture of a relationship that may be viewed and understood within a brief moment. Diagrams reinforce verbal and written descriptions of causal relationships and offer an effective means of presenting complex information in a simplified visual form

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