Out of sequence communications can affect causal judgement

Thinking and Reasoning 18 (2):133 - 158 (2012)
Abstract
In some practical uncertain situations decision makers are presented with described events that are out of sequence when having to make a causal attribution. A theoretical perspective concerning the causal coherence of the explanation is developed to predict the effect of this on causal attribution. Three experiments investigated the effect on causal judgement when the described order of events did not correspond to their causal order. Participants had to judge the relative probability of two possible causes of an outcome in scenarios in which presentation order varied. All three experiments found that there was a preference to judge that the cause associated with events described in causal order was more responsible for the outcome when events associated with one cause were interleaved in their presentation order with those from a second cause. This occurred when there was a strong causal relationship between events. The results were consistent with the causal coherence explanation
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