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Time in causal structure learning

Bramley, NR; Gerstenberg, T; Mayrhofer, R; Lagnado, DA; (2018) Time in causal structure learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 10.1037/xlm0000548. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

A large body of research has explored how the time between two events affects judgments of causal strength between them. In this article, we extend this work in 4 experiments that explore the role of temporal information in causal structure induction with multiple variables. We distinguish two qualitatively different types of information: The order in which events occur, and the temporal intervals between those events. We focus on one-shot learning in Experiment 1. In Experiment 2, we explore how people integrate evidence from multiple observations of the same causal device. Participants' judgments are well predicted by a Bayesian model that rules out causal structures that are inconsistent with the observed temporal order, and favors structures that imply similar intervals between causally connected components. In Experiments 3 and 4, we look more closely at participants' sensitivity to exact event timings. Participants see three events that always occur in the same order, but the variability and correlation between the timings of the events is either more consistent with a chain or a fork structure. We show, for the first time, that even when order cues do not differentiate, people can still make accurate causal structure judgments on the basis of interval variability alone.

Type: Article
Title: Time in causal structure learning
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/xlm0000548
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000548
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: causal learning; structure induction; time; order; Bayesian model
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/10050383
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