Controlling for causally relevant third variables.


In 3 experiments, the authors tested the conditions under which 3rd variables are controlled for in making causal judgments. The authors hypothesized that 3rd variables are controlled for when the 3rd variables are themselves perceived as causal. In Experiment 1, the participants predicted test performance after seeing information about wearing a lucky garment, taking a test-preparation course, and staying up late. The course (perceived as more causally relevant) was controlled for more than was the garment (perceived as less causally relevant) in assessing the effectiveness of staying up late. In Experiments 2 and 3, to obviate the many alternative accounts that arise from the realistic cover story of Experiment 1, participants predicted flowers' blooming after the presentation or nonpresentation of liquids. When one liquid was trained as causal, it was controlled for more in judging another liquid than when it was trained as neutral. Overall, stimuli perceived as causal were controlled for more when judging other stimuli. The authors concluded that the effect of perceived causal relevance on causal conditionalizing is real and normatively reasonable.

Cite this paper

@article{Goodie2003ControllingFC, title={Controlling for causally relevant third variables.}, author={Adam Goodie and Cristina C Williams and Courtney L. Crooks}, journal={The Journal of general psychology}, year={2003}, volume={130 4}, pages={415-30} }