Image credit: Jonas Nagel

Mediators or alternative explanations - Transitivity in human-mediated causal chains

Image credit: Jonas Nagel

Mediators or alternative explanations - Transitivity in human-mediated causal chains

Abstract

We investigate how learning that an established type-level causal relationship is implemented by human agency affects people’s conceptualization of this relationship. In particular, we ask under what conditions subjects continue to perceive the original root cause as appropriate explanation for the resulting effect, and under what conditions they perceive the mediating intentional action as alternative explanation instead. Using a new experimental paradigm, we demonstrate that mechanisms involving intentional action lead to intuitions of causal intransitivity, but only when these actions are norm-violating. Potential generalizations and implications for scientific theory construction are discussed.

Publication
In D. C. Noelle, R. Dale, A. S. Warlaumont, J. Yoshimi, T. Matlock, C. D. Jennings, & P. P. Maglio (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1691-1696). Austin, TX - Cognitive Science Society.