Causal Illusions: A Dual-Process Hypothesis of Causal Reasoning Open Access

Thorstad, Robert (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/6969z187k?locale=en
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Abstract

According to existing accounts of causation, people rely on a single criterion or process to identify the cause of an event. The phenomenon of causal illusions raises problems for such views. Causal illusions arise when a particular factor is perceived to be causal despite knowledge indicating otherwise. According to what we will call the Dual-Process Hypothesis of Causal Identification, identifying a cause involves two cognitive processes: 1) an automatic, intuitive process that identifies possible causes on the basis of perceptual cues, temporal cues in particular, and 2) a slow, reflective process that identifies possible causes on the basis of causal inference, in particular, a consideration of possible mechanism. Consistent with this hypothesis, we found that in response to a causal illusion shown in a naturalistic setting, people's initial judgments of causation were higher than their ultimate judgments of causation (Experiment 1). Using an online measure of the time-course of people's causal judgments, we found that people initially view animations of causal illusions as causal before concluding that they are non-causal (Experiment 2). Finally, we obtained similar results using a deadline procedure, while also finding that the lower the cognitive reflectiveness (as measured by the CRT), the stronger people's impressions of causation were (Experiment 3). Implications for different classes of theories of causation are discussed.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction ......... p. 1

Experiment 1 .......... p. 6

Methods ............ p. 7

Results .............. p. 8

Discussion .........p. 9

Experiment 2 .......... p. 10

Methods ............ p. 11

Results .............. p. 12

Discussion .........p. 13

Experiment 3 .......... p. 13

Methods ............ p. 14

Results .............. p. 15

General Discussion....... p. 17

References..........p. 20

Tables and Figures

Figure 1 ........... p. 26

Figure 1 ........... p. 27

Figure 1 ........... p. 28

Figure 1 ........... p. 29

Figure 1 ........... p. 26

Figure 1 ........... p. 26

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