Stable causal relationships are better causal relationships


Vasilyeva, N., Blanchard, T., & Lombrozo, T. (2018). Stable causal relationships are better causal relationships. Cognitive Science , 42 (4), 1265-1296.
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Date Published:

2018 May




We report three experiments investigating whether people's judgments about causal relationships are sensitive to the robustness or stability of such relationships across a range of background circumstances. In Experiment 1, we demonstrate that people are more willing to endorse causal and explanatory claims based on stable (as opposed to unstable) relationships, even when the overall causal strength of the relationship is held constant. In Experiment 2, we show that this effect is not driven by a causal generalization's actual scope of application. In Experiment 3, we offer evidence that stable causal relationships may be seen as better guides to action. Collectively, these experiments document a previously underappreciated factor that shapes people's causal reasoning: the stability of the causal relationship.



Alternate Journal:

Cogn Sci
See also: Journal Article
Last updated on 02/05/2019