Exploring Science

Exploring Science

The Cognition and Development of Discovery Processes

By David Klahr

A Bradford Book





Einstein said that "the whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking." David Klahr suggests that we now know enough about cognition—and hence about everyday thinking—to advance our understanding of scientific thinking. In this book he sets out to describe the cognitive and developmental processes that have enabled scientists to make the discoveries that comprise the body of information we call "scientific knowledge."

Over the past decade Klahr and his colleagues have conducted extensive laboratory experiments in which they create discovery contexts, computer-based environments, to evoke the kind of thinking characteristic of scientific discovery in the "real world." In attempting to solve the problems posed by the discovery tasks, experiment participants (from preschoolers through university students, as well as laypersons) use many of the same higher-order cognitive processes used by practicing scientists. Through this work Klahr integrates two disparate approaches—the content-based approach and the process-based approach—to present a comprehensive model of the psychology of scientific discovery.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262112482 255 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$24.00 X ISBN: 9780262611763 255 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • David Klahr's fine book provides a clear and insightful account of how children and adults make discoveries. It is an excellent contribution to the psychology of science.

    Paul Thagard

    Professor of Philosophy and Director, Cognitive Science Program, University of Waterloo

  • Exploring Science helps resolve long-standing debates about how scientific discoveries get made. Collectively, these studies articulate a more complete and nuanced account of the complementary roles of conceptual knowledge and reasoning heuristics. Nonspecialists will appreciate thelucid conceptual and historical analysis of the field and the connections to fundamental issues in the broad areas of problem solving and cognition.

    Leona Schauble

    Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin

  • Klahr and his colleagues offer us a richly detailed view of how one aspect of scientific discovery might proceed: the discovery of rules and principles in a well-constrained domain where both the space of hypotheses and potential experiments are well understood. This work provides valuable insight into the relative roles of domain-specific and domain-general principles in scientific reasoning and into how we manage to make progress in discovery while at the same time being fallible and subject to specific patterns of errors. We find here some of the most powerful demonstrations of two very different ways of engaging in discovery, as 'theorists' and as 'experimenters,' differences that every scientist is intimately familiarwith in his or her own area of work and that may well capture cognitive styles that vary within the scientific community. Any one interested in the cognitive science of science, and in how we discover new principles,formulate hypotheses, and evaluate evidence will benefit from reading this impressive book.

    Frank Keil

    Department of Psychology, Yale University

  • Klahr's new book details the evolution of an impressive research program on what it means to think scientifically. His analysis is at each stage thoughtful and meticulous, reflecting science at its best.

    Deanna Kuhn

    Professor of Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University