Dimensions in data: testing psychological models using state-trace analysis

Ben R. Newell, John C. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Cognitive science is replete with fertile and forceful debates about the need for one or more underlying mental processes or systems to explain empirical observations. Such debates can be found in many areas, including learning, memory, categorization, reasoning and decision-making. Multiple-process models are often advanced on the basis of dissociations in data. We argue and illustrate that using dissociation logic to draw conclusions about the dimensionality of data is flawed. We propose that a more widespread adoption of 'state-trace analysis' - an approach that overcomes these flaws - could lead to a re-evaluation of the need for multiple-process models and to a re-appraisal of how these models should be formulated and tested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-290
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


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