State Anxiety and the Processing of Covariation Information in Causal Reasoning


The phenomena of conditionalization and discounting have been studied as reflection of attention to multiple potential causes in causal reasoning. And it has been observed that individual-difference factors significantly influence causal reasoning. Specifically, previous studies showed that sociality anxiety related factors such as self-construal influence levels of conditionalization and discounting. In this study, we further specified the relationship between anxiety and the two mechanisms in causal reasoning. We manipulated participants’ levels of state anxiety and found that participants with a relatively greater state anxiety showed a greater propensity to discount their judgment on an alternative cause. But this pattern was not observed in conditionalization between participants with two different levels (high vs. low) of state anxiety. First, these results suggest that conditionalization and discounting are independent to each other, further supporting previous studies. Second, we propose that different individual-difference factors specifically influence the two mechanisms in causal reasoning.

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