ERIC Number: ED194528
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Oct
Reference Count: 0
Evaluation of Evidence in Causal Inference. Technical Report No. 21.
Schustack, Miriam W.; Sternberg, Robert J.
In three experiments, this study investigated what evidence people use in making inferences about causality in complex and uncertain situations. Given evidence consisting of multiple observations of some outcome, with each observation including information about the presence or absence of that outcome and of some of its possible causes, subjects estimated the strength of the causal relationship between the outcome and a predetermined possibly-causal event. Over problems and over experiments, the nature and strength of evidence supporting the causal role of the hypothesized cause varied along many dimensions. Using regression-modeling, a set of five evidence types were identified that together gave a good account of subjects' judgments. Four of the independent variables in this model directly concern the relation between the hypothesized cause and the outcome (confirmation by Joint Presence and by Joint Absence of target and outcome, and disconfirmation by violation of sufficiency and of necessity of the target for the outcome), and the fifth represents the goodness of alternative causes as explanations for the outcome. Over the experiments, involving four groups of subjects and five sets of problems, this single linear model accounted for 84 to 90 percent of the variance in each problem-set. (Author/BW)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Naval Research, Arlington, VA. Personnel and Training Research Programs Office.
Authoring Institution: Yale Univ., New Haven, CT. Dept. of Psychology.
Identifiers: Causal Inferences; Evidence; Inference Skills; Inferential Reasoning