Barbara Spellman

Crediting causality

PUBLISHER
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
DATE
1997 Autumn
 

UVA Law Faculty Affiliations

Barbara A. Spellman

Abstract

The crediting causality hypothesis states that when people attribute causality for an outcome, each individual event in the sequence leading to the outcome is evaluated as to how much it changed the probability of the outcome, given what had already occurred. Causality is then assigned on the basis of the relative contributions. In 4 experiments, college students show this effect both for noncausal sequences, in which previous experiments suggest that the last event to occur is most causal, and for causal sequences, in which previous experiments suggest that the first event to occur is most causal. Both the order in which events occur and the order in which people learn about events affect causal attributions. Mutability is ruled out as an explanation, although it may contribute to the assessment of probabilities.

Citation

Barbara A. Spellman, Crediting causality, 126 Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 323–348 (1997).
 

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