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Judgement of two causal candidates from contingency information: II. Effects of information about one cause on judgements of the other cause

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When judgements are being made about two causes there are eight possible kinds of contingency information: occurrences and nonoccurrences of the outcome when both causes are present, when Cause 1 alone is present, when Cause 2 alone is present, and when neither cause is present. It is proposed that contingency information is used to some extent to judge proportionate strength, which is the proportion of occurrences of the outcome that each cause can account for. This leads to a prediction that judgements of one cause will be influenced by information about occurrences, but not nonoccurrences, of the outcome when only the other cause is present. In six experiments consistent support was found for this prediction when the cause being judged had a positive relation with the outcome, but no consistent tendency was found when the cause being judged had a negative relation with the outcome. The effects found for causes with positive contingency cannot be explained by the Rescorla–Wagner model of causal judgement nor by the hypothesis that causal judgements are based on conditional contingencies.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2005


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