How do people attribute responsibility in situations where the contributions of multiple agents combine to produce a joint outcome? The prevalence of over-determination in such cases makes this a difficult problem for counterfactual theories of causal responsibility. In this article, we explore a general framework for assigning responsibility in multiple agent contexts. We draw on the structural model account of actual causation (e.g., Halpern & Pearl, 2005) and its extension to responsibility judgments (Chockler & Halpern, 2004). We review the main (...) theoretical and empirical issues that arise from this literature and propose a novel model of intuitive judgments of responsibility. This model is a function of both pivotality (whether an agent made a difference to the outcome) and criticality (how important the agent is perceived to be for the outcome, before any actions are taken). The model explains empirical results from previous studies and is supported by a new experiment that manipulates both pivotality and criticality. We also discuss possible extensions of this model to deal with a broader range of causal situations. Overall, our approach emphasizes the close interrelations between causality, counterfactuals, and responsibility attributions. (shrink)
A Bayesian network (BN) is a graphical model of uncertainty that is especially well suited to legal arguments. It enables us to visualize and model dependencies between different hypotheses and pieces of evidence and to calculate the revised probability beliefs about all uncertain factors when any piece of new evidence is presented. Although BNs have been widely discussed and recently used in the context of legal arguments, there is no systematic, repeatable method for modeling legal arguments as BNs. Hence, where (...) BNs have been used in the legal context, they are presented as completed pieces of work, with no insights into the reasoning and working that must have gone into their construction. This means the process of building BNs for legal arguments is ad hoc, with little possibility for learning and process improvement. This article directly addresses this problem by describing a method for building useful legal arguments in a consistent and repeatable way. The method complements and extends recent work by Hepler, Dawid, and Leucari (2007) on object-oriented BNs for complex legal arguments and is based on the recognition that such arguments can be built up from a small number of basic causal structures (referred to as idioms). We present a number of examples that demonstrate the practicality and usefulness of the method. (shrink)
A normative framework for modeling causal and counterfactual reasoning has been proposed by Spirtes, Glymour, and Scheines. The framework takes as fundamental that reasoning from observation and intervention differ. Intervention includes actual manipulation as well as counterfactual manipulation of a model via thought. To represent intervention, Pearl employed the do operator that simplifies the structure of a causal model by disconnecting an intervened-on variable from its normal causes. Construing the do operator as a psychological function affords predictions about how people (...) reason when asked counterfactual questions about causal relations that we refer to as undoing, a family of effects that derive from the claim that intervened-on variables become independent of their normal causes. Six studies support the prediction for causal arguments but not consistently for parallel conditional ones. Two of the studies show that effects are treated as diagnostic when their values are observed but nondiagnostic when they are intervened on. These results cannot be explained by theories that do not distinguish interventions from other sorts of events. (shrink)
It is well established that the temporal proximity of two events is a fundamental cue to causality. Recent research with adults has shown that this relation is bidirectional: events that are believed to be causally related are perceived as occurring closer together in time—the so‐called temporal binding effect. Here, we examined the developmental origins of temporal binding. Participants predicted when an event that was either caused by a button press, or preceded by a non‐causal signal, would occur. We demonstrate for (...) the first time that children as young as 4 years are susceptible to temporal binding. Binding occurred both when the button press was executed via intentional action, and when a machine caused it. These results suggest binding is a fundamental, early developing property of perception and grounded in causal knowledge. (shrink)
The application of the formal framework of causal Bayesian Networks to children’s causal learning provides the motivation to examine the link between judgments about the causal structure of a system, and the ability to make inferences about interventions on components of the system. Three experiments examined whether children are able to make correct inferences about interventions on different causal structures. The first two experiments examined whether children’s causal structure and intervention judgments were consistent with one another. In Experiment 1, children (...) aged between 4 and 8 years made causal structure judgments on a three-component causal system followed by counterfactual intervention judgments. In Experiment 2, children’s causal structure judgments were followed by intervention judgments phrased as future hypotheticals. In Experiment 3, we explicitly told children what the correct causal structure was and asked them to make intervention judgments. The results of the three experiments suggest that the representations that support causal structure judgments do not easily support simple judgments about interventions in children. We discuss our findings in light of strong interventionist claims that the two types of judgments should be closely linked. (shrink)
Temporal binding refers to a phenomenon whereby the time interval between a cause and its effect is perceived as shorter than the same interval separating two unrelated events. We examined the developmental profile of this phenomenon by comparing the performance of groups of children (aged 6-7-, 7-8-, and 9-10- years) and adults on a novel interval estimation task. In Experiment 1, participants made judgments about the time interval between i) their button press and a rocket launch, and ii) a non-causal (...) predictive signal and rocket launch. In Experiment 2, an additional causal condition was included in which participants made judgments about the interval between an experimenter’s button press and the launch of a rocket. Temporal binding was demonstrated consistently and did not change in magnitude with age: estimates of delay were shorter in causal contexts for both adults and children. Additionally, the magnitude of the binding effect was greater when participants themselves were the cause of an outcome compared to when they were mere spectators. This suggests that although causality underlies the binding effect, intentional action may modulate its magnitude. Again, this was true of both adults and children. Taken together, these results are the first to suggest that the binding effect is present and developmentally constant from childhood into adulthood. (shrink)
Consider the task of predicting which soccer team will win the next World Cup. The bookmakers may judge Brazil to be the team most likely to win, but also judge it most likely that a European rather than a Latin American team will win. This is an example of a non-aligned hierarchy structure: the most probable event at the subordinate level (Brazil wins) appears to be inconsistent with the most probable event at the superordinate level (a European team wins). In (...) this paper we exploit such structures to investigate how people make predictions based on uncertain hierarchical knowledge. We distinguish between aligned and non-aligned environments, and conjecture that people assume alignment. Participants were exposed to a non-aligned training set in which the most probable superordinate category predicted one outcome, whereas the most probable subordinate category predicted a different outcome. In the test phase participants allowed their initial probability judgments about category membership to shift their final ratings of the probability of the outcome, even though all judgments were made on the basis of the same statistical data. In effect people were primed to focus on the most likely path in an inference tree, and neglect alternative paths. These results highlight the importance of the level at which statistical data are represented, and suggest that when faced with hierarchical inference problems people adopt a simplifying heuristic that assumes alignment. (shrink)
In temporal binding, the temporal interval between one event and another, occurring some time later, is subjectively compressed. We discuss two ways in which temporal binding has been conceptualized. In studies showing temporal binding between a voluntary action and its causal consequences, such binding is typically interpreted as providing a measure of an implicit or pre-reflective “sense of agency”. However, temporal binding has also been observed in contexts not involving voluntary action, but only the passive observation of a cause-effect sequence. (...) In those contexts, it has been interpreted as a top-down effect on perception reflecting a belief in causality. These two views need not be in conflict with one another, if one thinks of them as concerning two separate mechanisms through which temporal binding can occur. In this paper, we explore an alternative possibility: that there is a unitary way of explaining temporal binding both within and outside the context of voluntary action as a top-down effect on perception reflecting a belief in causality. Any such explanation needs to account for ways in which agency, and factors connected with agency, have been shown to affect the strength of temporal binding. We show that principles of causal inference and causal selection already familiar from the literature on causal learning have the potential to explain why the strength of people’s causal beliefs can be affected by the extent to which they are themselves actively involved in bringing about events, thus in turn affecting binding. (shrink)
Can the phenomena of associative learning be replaced wholesale by a propositional reasoning system? Mitchell et al. make a strong case against an automatic, unconscious, and encapsulated associative system. However, their propositional account fails to distinguish inferences based on actions from those based on observation. Causal Bayes networks remedy this shortcoming, and also provide an overarching framework for both learning and reasoning. On this account, causal representations are primary, but associative learning processes are not excluded a priori.
Barbey & Sloman attribute all instances of normative base-rate usage to a rule-based system, and all instances of neglect to an associative system. As it stands, this argument is too simplistic, and indeed fails to explain either good or bad performance on the classic Medical Diagnosis problem.
Although it has long been known that time is a cue to causation, recent work with adults has demonstrated that causality can also influence the experience of time. In causal reordering (Bechlivanidis & Lagnado, 2013, 2016) adults tend to report the causally consistent order of events, rather than the correct temporal order. However, the effect has yet to be demonstrated in children. Across four pre-registered experiments, 4- to 10-year-old children (N=813) and adults (N=178) watched a 3-object Michotte-style ‘pseudocollision’. While in (...) the canonical version of the clip object A collided with B, which then collided with object C (order: ABC), the pseudocollision involved the same spatial array of objects but featured object C moving before object B (order: ACB), with no collision between B and C. Participants were asked to judge the temporal order of events and whether object B collided with C. Across all age groups, participants were significantly more likely to judge that B collided with C in the 3-object pseudocollision than in a 2-object control clip (where clear causal direction was lacking), despite the spatiotemporal relations between B and C being identical in the two clips (Experiments 1—3). Collision judgements and temporal order judgements were not entirely consistent, with some participants—particularly in the younger age range—basing their temporal order judgements on spatial rather than temporal information (Experiment 4). We conclude that in both children and adults, rather than causal impressions being determined only by the basic spatial-temporal properties of object movement, schemata are used in a top-down manner when interpreting perceptual displays. (shrink)
Can ownership status influence probability judgements under condition of uncertainty? In three experiments, we presented our participants with a recording of a real horse race. We endowed half of our sample with a wager on a single horse to win the race, and the other half with money to spend to acquire the same wager. Across three large studies, we found the endowment effect – owners demanded significantly more for the wager than buyers were willing to pay to acquire it. (...) However, we also found that probability estimates of each horse winning the race did not differ between owners and non-owners of the betting slip. Our results demonstrate that distorted perception of probability is unlikely to be a mechanism explaining the endowment effect. (shrink)