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Lucky or clever? From expectations to responsibility judgments

Gerstenberg, T; Ullman, TD; Nagel, J; Kleiman-Weiner, M; Lagnado, DA; Tenenbaum, JB; (2018) Lucky or clever? From expectations to responsibility judgments. Cognition , 177 pp. 122-141. 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.03.019. Green open access

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Abstract

How do people hold others responsible for the consequences of their actions? We propose a computational model that attributes responsibility as a function of what the observed action reveals about the person, and the causal role that the person's action played in bringing about the outcome. The model first infers what type of person someone is from having observed their action. It then compares a prior expectation of how a person would behave with a posterior expectation after having observed the person's action. The model predicts that a person is blamed for negative outcomes to the extent that the posterior expectation is lower than the prior, and credited for positive outcomes if the posterior is greater than the prior. We model the causal role of a person's action by using a counterfactual model that considers how close the action was to having been pivotal for the outcome. The model captures participants' responsibility judgments to a high degree of quantitative accuracy across three experiments that cover a range of different situations. It also solves an existing puzzle in the literature on the relationship between action expectations and responsibility judgments. Whether an unexpected action yields more or less credit depends on whether the action was diagnostic for good or bad future performance.

Type: Article
Title: Lucky or clever? From expectations to responsibility judgments
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.03.019
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.03.019
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Causality, Counterfactuals, Expectations, Pivotality, Responsibility
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10048639
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