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Type: Journal article
Title: Reasoning about redundant and non-redundant alternative causes of a single outcome: blocking or enhancement caused by the stronger cause
Author: Baetu, I.
Baker, A.G.
Citation: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2019; 72(2):238-250
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Issue Date: 2019
ISSN: 1747-0218
Statement of
Irina Baetu and AG Baker
Abstract: Perceptions of the effectiveness of a moderate probabilistic cause are influenced by the presence of stronger alternative causes. One important idea is that this influence occurs because the strong cause renders the weaker one statistically redundant. Alternatively, the causes might be contrasted to each other, so the stronger cause may simply overpower perceptions of the weaker one. Causes may have the same polarity (e.g., two generative/excitatory causes or two preventive/inhibitory causes) or be of opposite polarity (e.g., a generative cause versus a preventive or inhibitory cause). Previously, we found that the presence of a stronger redundant alternative cause of the same polarity reduces causal judgements of the moderate cause (i.e., blocking occurs) but a stronger cause of the opposite polarity enhances judgements of the moderate cause (i.e., enhancement). Experiments 1 and 2 further explored these cue competition effects with redundant and non-redundant alternative causes (i.e., correlated versus independent alternatives). We generally found that blocking and enhancement occur with both redundant and non-redundant alternative causes. This is inconsistent with an information processing view of cue competition that relies on statistical redundancy to account for blocking. Although these results are inconsistent with a redundancy information processing account of cue competition and are consistent with our earlier contrast account, we demonstrate here that a simple associative model can account for the sometimes apparently contradictory effects of cue competition.
Keywords: Casual reasoning; blocking; Rescorla-Wagner model; multiple causes
Rights: © Experimental Psychology Society 2017. Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2017.1338302
Grant ID: ARC
Published version:
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Psychology publications

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