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ERIC Number: EJ923572
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-May
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Expectations and Interpretations during Causal Learning
Luhmann, Christian C.; Ahn, Woo-kyoung
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v37 n3 p568-587 May 2011
In existing models of causal induction, 4 types of covariation information (i.e., presence/absence of an event followed by presence/absence of another event) always exert identical influences on causal strength judgments (e.g., joint presence of events always suggests a generative causal relationship). In contrast, we suggest that, due to expectations developed during causal learning, learners give varied interpretations to covariation information as it is encountered and that these interpretations influence the resulting causal beliefs. In Experiments 1A-1C, participants' interpretations of observations during a causal learning task were dynamic, expectation based, and, furthermore, strongly tied to subsequent causal judgments. Experiment 2 demonstrated that adding trials of joint absence or joint presence of events, whose roles have been traditionally interpreted as increasing causal strengths, could result in decreased overall causal judgments and that adding trials where one event occurs in the absence of another, whose roles have been traditionally interpreted as decreasing causal strengths, could result in increased overall causal judgments. We discuss implications for traditional models of causal learning and how a more top-down approach (e.g., Bayesian) would be more compatible with the current findings. (Contains 13 figures, 4 tables and 7 footnotes.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A