Causality in Thought (2014)

Causality in Thought.
Annu Rev Psychol. 2014 Jul 21.
Sloman SA, Lagnado D.

Causal knowledge plays a crucial role in human thought, but the nature of causal representation and inference remains a puzzle.
Can human causal inference be captured by relations of probabilistic dependency, or does it draw on richer forms of representation?

This article explores this question by reviewing research in reasoning, decision making, various forms of judgment, and attribution.
We endorse causal Bayesian networks as the best normative framework and as a productive guide to theory building.

However, it is incomplete as an account of causal thinking.
On the basis of a range of experimental work, we identify three hallmarks of causal reasoning-the role of mechanism, narrative, and mental simulation-all of which go beyond mere probabilistic knowledge.
We propose that the hallmarks are closely related.
Mental simulations are representations over time of mechanisms.
When multiple actors are involved, these simulations are aggregated into narratives.

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