Do we prefer purpose-based explanations?

It could be that humans possess a default preference for explanations that are purpose-based, new research has suggested. Published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, the study looked at why even professional scientists cannot dismiss the idea that natural phenomena exist for a purpose.

According to investigators at Boston University's Psychology Department, scientists tend to follow this notion when required to think under time pressure.

However, when they have time to properly think about the reasons behind certain happenings, these professionals are more likely to reject any teleological accounts.

The researchers noted the findings provide evidence of a persistent default preference for purpose-based explanations that have been around since early human development.

Deborah Kelemen, Associate Professor of Psychology at the learning institute, said she was surprised to learn advanced scientific training might not be able to erase deep-rooted human tendencies.

Ms Kelemen noted: "It seems that our minds may be naturally more geared to religion than science."

Dr Hugh Koch, a Chartered Psychologist, comments:

"This interesting study raises the issue of how, despite our scientific learning, we often search for meaning and purpose in our own and others' actions and other external events. In all probability , this is based on our desire for control in our lives and a wish for an overall purpose for life, hence the immense leaning towards religion of one sort or another with its in built attempted explanation of life and death, despite the lack of scientific or logical backing."