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This article is the author's final published version in Informal Logic, Volume 43, Issue 1, 2023, Pg. 1 - 22.

The published version is available at Copyright © Deanna Kuhn and Anahid Modrek.


Simple explanations are very often inadequate and can encourage faulty inferences. We examined college students’ explanations regarding illegal immigration to determine the prevalence of single-factor explanations. The form of students’ explanations was predicted by their responses on a simple three-item forced-choice multivariable causal reasoning task in which they selected the strongest evidence against a causal claim. In a further qualitative investigation of explanations by a sample of community adults, we identified positive features among those who scored high on this multivariable causal reasoning task. We consider limitations of single-factor reasoning and means of encouraging more comprehensive explanations to support claims.