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Causal judgement from contingency information: Judging interactions between two causal candidates

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In two experiments participants judged the extent to which occurrences and non-occurrences of an effect could be attributed to an interaction between two causal candidates A and B. In Experiment 1 judgements were influenced by the proportion of instances normatively evaluated as confirmatory for the interaction interpretation, when the objective contingency was held constant. Information about instances in which both candidates were present and the effect occurred was more influential than information about instances in which both candidates were absent and the effect did not occur. In Experiment 2 the occurrence rate of the effect when both candidates were present, when A alone was present, when B alone was present, and when both were absent was manipulated. Interaction judgements were mainly determined by occurrence rate when both were present. There was also a significant effect of occurrence rate when both were absent, but the other two occurrence rates had no significant effect. These results are interpreted as supporting a general model in which causal judgements are made according to the proportion of instances evaluated as supporting the interpretation being judged.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cardiff University, Wales, UK

Publication date: 01 August 2002

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