ERIC Number: EJ1120549
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Nov
Abstractor: As Provided
Sufficiency and Necessity Assumptions in Causal Structure Induction
Mayrhofer, Ralf; Waldmann, Michael R.
Cognitive Science, v40 n8 p2137-2150 Nov 2016
Research on human causal induction has shown that people have general prior assumptions about causal strength and about how causes interact with the background. We propose that these prior assumptions about the parameters of causal systems do not only manifest themselves in estimations of causal strength or the selection of causes but also when deciding between alternative causal structures. In three experiments, we requested subjects to choose which of two observable variables was the cause and which the effect. We found strong evidence that learners have interindividually variable but intraindividually stable priors about causal parameters that express a preference for causal determinism (sufficiency or necessity; Experiment 1). These priors predict which structure subjects preferentially select. The priors can be manipulated experimentally (Experiment 2) and appear to be domain-general (Experiment 3). Heuristic strategies of structure induction are suggested that can be viewed as simplified implementations of the priors.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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