ERIC Number: ED249420
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Causal Chains: Intervening Causation and Attribution of Responsibility.
Fincham, Frank D.; Roberts, Caton
Although an event is normally perceived and understood in terms of its location within a temporally ordered network of interconnected causes and effects, there is little data regarding the principles people use in tracing causality for an outcome through immediate, proximal events to prior, distal events. To investigate: (1) the conditions under which the proximal cause of an event affects judgments of a distal cause; (2) the capacities persons need to be held responsible for their actions; and (3) the relationship between judgments of causation, blame, and restitution, subjects (N=144) read about situations in which an initial act, in combination with a later behavior by a second person, produced harm. The age and mental state of the second person were varied. Subjects then answered a series of questions about both the first and second protagonist. Results showed that cause and blame assigned to the initial action were greater when the second person was a child or mentally disturbed, as compared to a sane adult. Causal and moral responsibility were related to the understanding, reasoning capacity, and ability to control behavior of the person judged. Finally, support was obtained for an entailment model of the relations between judgments of causation, blame, and restitution. (Author/JAC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Situational Variables
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (92nd, Toronto, Canada, August 24-28, 1984).