The use of dispositional cues to causality in judgements of mechanical and living interactions


White (2013) stated that dispositional causal thinking derives from experiences of acting on objects aquired early in life. He made evident that, under uncertainty, particular cues in an interaction between an agent and a patient (e.g., two entities, agent focuses on patient, contact, effect in patient) guide people's perception of causality. This study systematically examines the predictive strength of eight causal cues worked out by White (2013) and aims at comparing people's reliance on these cues in the physical and the biological domain. Children (7-year-old) and adults judged a prototype (mechanical collision event or stinging event) and another nine prototype related events, with systematically omitted cues. A general linear mixed models analysis revealed a significant effect for the number of cues in an event. Both age groups rely on singular causal cues when interpreting physical and biological events. Moreover, the disposition of causality appears to harden with increasing age.

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