Restructuring Causal Concepts


Typical studies of concept learning in adults address the learning of novel concepts, but much of learning involves the updating and restructuring of familiar conceptual domains. Research on conceptual change explores this issue directly but differs greatly from the formal approach of the adult learning studies. This paper bridges these two areas to advance our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying concept restructuring. The main idea behind this approach is that concepts are structured by causal-explanatory knowledge, and hence, models of causal induction may help to clarify the mechanisms of the restructuring process. A new learning paradigm is presented to study the learning and revising of causal networks. Results show that some behaviors indicative of conceptual change arise from basic causal learning mechanisms. Results also support models of causal induction that assume inhibition between competing causes.

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