Distinctions have been proposed between systems of reasoning for centuries. This article distills properties shared by many of these distinctions and characterizes the resulting systems in light of recent findings and theoretical developments. One system is associative because its computations reflect similarity structure and relations of temporal contiguity. The other is "rule based" because it operates on symbolic structures that have logical content and variables and because its computations have the properties that are normally assigned to rules. The systems serve (...) complementary functions and can simultaneously generate different solutions to a reasoning problem. The rule-based system can suppress the associative system but not completely inhibit it. The article reviews evidence in favor of the distinction and its characterization. (shrink)
The phenomenon of base-rate neglect has elicited much debate. One arena of debate concerns how people make judgments under conditions of uncertainty. Another more controversial arena concerns human rationality. In this target article, we attempt to unpack the perspectives in the literature on both kinds of issues and evaluate their ability to explain existing data and their conceptual coherence. From this evaluation we conclude that the best account of the data should be framed in terms of a dual-process model of (...) judgment, which attributes base-rate neglect to associative judgment strategies that fail to adequately represent the set structure of the problem. Base-rate neglect is reduced when problems are presented in a format that affords accurate representation in terms of nested sets of individuals. (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)
How do people understand questions about cause and prevent? Some theories propose that people affirm that A causes B if A's occurrence makes a difference to B's occurrence in one way or another. Other theories propose that A causes B if some quantity or symbol gets passed in some way from A to B. The aim of our studies is to compare these theories' ability to explain judgements of causation and prevention. We describe six experiments that compare judgements for causal (...) paths that involve a mechanism, i.e. a continuous process of transmission or exchange from cause to effect, against paths that involve no mechanism yet a change in the cause nevertheless brings about a change in the effect. Our results show that people prefer to attribute cause when a mechanism links cause to effect. In contrast, prevention is sensitive both to the presence of an interruption to a causal mechanism and to a change in the outcome in the absence of a mechanism. In this sense, ‘prevent’ means something different than ‘cause not'. We discuss the implications of our results for existing theories of causation. (shrink)
We propose a causal model theory to explain asymmetries in judgments of the intentionality of a foreseen side-effect that is either negative or positive (Knobe, 2003). The theory is implemented as a Bayesian network relating types of mental states, actions, and consequences that integrates previous hypotheses. It appeals to two inferential routes to judgment about the intentionality of someone else's action: bottom-up from action to desire and top-down from character and disposition. Support for the theory comes from three experiments that (...) test the prediction that bottom-up inference should occur only when the actor's primary objective is known. The model fits intentionality judgments reasonably well with no free parameters. (shrink)
The likelihood of a statement is often derived by generating an explanation for it and evaluating the plausibility of the explanation. The explanation discounting principle states that people tend to focus on a single explanation; alternative explanations compete with the effect of reducing one another’s credibility. Two experiments tested the hypothesis that this principle applies to inductive inferences concerning the properties of everyday categories. In both experiments, subjects estimated the probability of a series of statements and the conditional probabilities of (...) those conclusions given other related facts. For example, given that most lawyers make good sales people, what is the probability that most psychologists make good sales people? The results showed that when the fact and the conclusion had the same explanation the fact increased people’s willingness to believe the conclusion, but when they had different explanations the fact decreased the conclusion’s credibility. This decrease is attributed to explanation discounting; the explanation for the fact had the effect of reducing the plausibility of the explanation for the conclusion. (shrink)
Studies of categorical induction typically examine how belief in a premise (e.g., Falcons have an ulnar artery) projects on to a conclusion (e.g., Robins have an ulnar artery). We study induction in cases in which the premise is uncertain (e.g., There is an 80% chance that falcons have an ulnar artery). Jeffrey's rule is a normative model for updating beliefs in the face of uncertain evidence. In three studies we tested the descriptive validity of Jeffrey's rule and a related probability (...) theorem, the rule of total probability. Although these rules provided good approximations to mean judgments in some cases, the results from regression and correlation analyses suggest that participants focus on the parts of these rules that are associated with the highest overall probability. We relate our findings to rational models of judgment. (shrink)
The psychology of reasoning is increasingly considering agents' values and preferences, achieving greater integration with judgment and decision making, social cognition, and moral reasoning. Some of this research investigates utility conditionals, ‘‘if p then q’’ statements where the realization of p or q or both is valued by some agents. Various approaches to utility conditionals share the assumption that reasoners make inferences from utility conditionals based on the comparison between the utility of p and the expected utility of q. This (...) article introduces a new parameter in this analysis, the underlying causal structure of the conditional. Four experiments showed that causal structure moderated utility-informed conditional reasoning. These inferences were strongly invited when the underlying structure of the conditional was causal, and significantly less so when the underlying structure of the conditional was diagnostic. This asymmetry was only observed for conditionals in which the utility of q was clear, and disappeared when the utility of q was unclear. Thus, an adequate account of utility-informed inferences conditional reasoning requires three components: utility, probability, and causal structure. (shrink)
Judea Pearl won the 2010 Rumelhart Prize in computational cognitive science due to his seminal contributions to the development of Bayes nets and causal Bayes nets, frameworks that are central to multiple domains of the computational study of mind. At the heart of the causal Bayes nets formalism is the notion of a counterfactual, a representation of something false or nonexistent. Pearl refers to Bayes nets as oracles for intervention, and interventions can tell us what the effect of action will (...) be or what the effect of counterfactual possibilities would be. Counterfactuals turn out to be necessary to understand thought, perception, and language. This selection of papers tells us why, sometimes in ways that support the Bayes net framework and sometimes in ways that challenge it. (shrink)
Statements that share an explanation tend to lend inductive support to one another. For example, being told that Many furniture movers have a hard time financing a house increases the judged probability that Secretaries have a hard time financing a house. In contrast, statements with different explanations reduce one another s judged probability. Being told that Many furniture movers have bad backs decreases the judged probability that Secretaries have bad backs. I pose two questions concerning such discounting effects. First, does (...) the reduction depend on explanations being mutually incompatible or does it occur when explanations are deemed irrelevant to one another? I found that a small discounting effect occurred with statements that were blatantly unrelated. However, the discounting effect also depended on a factor external to the argument being judged; the composition of the argument set. Second, are explanation effects attributable to changes in the belief afforded statements or to response-specific changes resulting from misunderstanding of the probability rating task or response bias? The results implicate changes in belief. Prior belief influenced conditional probability more than argument strength judgements, as it would if participants understood the tasks in the same way as the experimenter. Also, conditional probability true and false judgements were complementary, suggesting no response bias. (shrink)
The commentaries indicate a general agreement that one source of reduction of base-rate neglect involves making structural relations among relevant sets transparent. There is much less agreement, however, that this entails dual systems of reasoning. In this response, we make the case for our perspective on dual systems. We compare and contrast our view to the natural frequency hypothesis as formulated in the commentaries.
We highlight one way in which Jones & Love (J&L) misconstrue the Bayesian program: Bayesian models do not represent a rejection of mechanism. This mischaracterization obscures the valid criticisms in their article. We conclude that computational-level Bayesian modeling should not be rejected or discouraged a priori, but should be held to the same empirical standards as other models.