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ERIC Number: EJ1074544
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Sep
Pages: 36
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0364-0213
Causal Networks or Causal Islands? The Representation of Mechanisms and the Transitivity of Causal Judgment
Johnson, Samuel G. B.; Ahn, Woo-kyoung
Cognitive Science, v39 n7 p1468-1503 Sep 2015
Knowledge of mechanisms is critical for causal reasoning. We contrasted two possible organizations of causal knowledge--an interconnected causal "network," where events are causally connected without any boundaries delineating discrete mechanisms; or a set of disparate mechanisms--causal "islands"--such that events in different mechanisms are not thought to be related even when they belong to the same causal chain. To distinguish these possibilities, we tested whether people make "transitive" judgments about causal chains by inferring, given "A causes B" and "B causes C," that "A causes C." Specifically, causal chains schematized as one chunk or mechanism in semantic memory (e.g., exercising, becoming thirsty, drinking water) led to transitive causal judgments. On the other hand, chains schematized as multiple chunks (e.g., having sex, becoming pregnant, becoming nauseous) led to intransitive judgments despite strong intermediate links ((Experiments 1-3). Normative accounts of causal intransitivity could not explain these intransitive judgments (Experiments 4 and 5).
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (DHHS)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: R01 MH057737; R01 HG007653