Vasilyeva, N., Blanchard, T., & Lombrozo, T. (2016). Stable causal relationships are better causal relationships. D. Grodner, D. Mirman, A. Papafragou, & J. Trueswell (Ed.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.
We report two experiments investigating whether people’s judgments about causal relationships are sensitive to the robustness or stability of such relationships across a wide range of background circumstances. We demonstrate that people prefer stable causal relationships even when overall causal strength is held constant, and show that this effect is unlikely to be driven by a causal generalization’s actual scope of application. This documents a previously unacknowledged factor that shapes people’s causal reasoning.