ERIC Number: EJ1025261
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Aug
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Inference and Explanation in Counterfactual Reasoning
Rips, Lance J.; Edwards, Brian J.
Cognitive Science, v37 n6 p1107-1135 Aug 2013
This article reports results from two studies of how people answer counterfactual questions about simple machines. Participants learned about devices that have a specific configuration of components, and they answered questions of the form "If component X had not operated [failed], would component Y have operated?" The data from these studies indicate that participants were sensitive to the way in which the antecedent state is described--whether component X "had not operated" or "had failed." Answers also depended on whether the device is deterministic or probabilistic--whether X's causal parents "always" or only "usually" cause X to operate. Participants' explanations of their answers often invoked non-operation of causally prior components or unreliability of prior connections. They less often mentioned independence from these causal elements.
Descriptors: Inferences, Logical Thinking, Cognitive Psychology, Causal Models, Attribution Theory, Equipment
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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