We conducted five sets of experiments asking whether psychological and physical events are construed in broadly different manners concerning the underlying textures of their causes. In Experiments 1a–1d, we found a robust tendency to estimate fewer causes (but not effects) for psychological than for physical events; Experiment 2 showed a similar pattern of results when participants were asked to generate hypothetical causes and effects; Experiment 3 revealed a greater tendency to ascribe linear chains of causes (but not effects) to physical events; Experiment 4 showed that the expectation of linear chains was related to intuitions about deterministic processes; and Experiment 5 showed that simply framing a given ambiguous event in psychological versus physical terms is sufficient to induce changes in the patterns of causal inferences. Adults therefore consistently show a tendency to think about psychological and physical events as being embedded in different kinds of causal structures.
Memory & Cognition – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 2, 2016
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