Of course, scientific theories are meant to provide accurate explanations or interpretations of phenomena. But there must be more to it than this. Consider that a theory can be accurate without being very useful.
To say that expressive writing helps people “deal with their emotions” might be accurate as far as it goes,
but it seems too vague to be of much use. Consider also that a theory can be useful without being entirely accurate. Figure 4.1 is a representation of the classic multistore model of human memory, which is still cited by researchers and discussed in textbooks despite the fact that it is now known to be inaccurate in a number of ways (Izawa, 1999). 1 These two examples suggest that theories have purposes other than simply providing accurate explanations or interpretations. Here we look at three additional purposes of theories: the organization of known phenomena, the prediction of outcomes in new situations, and the generation of new research.