UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Explaining Away, Augmentation, and the Assumption of Independence

Cruz, N; Hahn, U; Fenton, N; Lagnado, D; (2020) Explaining Away, Augmentation, and the Assumption of Independence. Frontiers in Psychology , 11 , Article 502751. 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.502751. Green open access

[thumbnail of fpsyg-11-502751.pdf]
Preview
Text
fpsyg-11-502751.pdf - Published Version

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract

In reasoning about situations in which several causes lead to a common effect, a much studied and yet still not well-understood inference is that of explaining away. Assuming that the causes contribute independently to the effect, if we learn that the effect is present, then this increases the probability that one or more of the causes are present. But if we then learn that a particular cause is present, this cause “explains” the presence of the effect, and the probabilities of the other causes decrease again. People tend to show this explaining away effect in their probability judgments, but to a lesser extent than predicted by the causal structure of the situation. We investigated further the conditions under which explaining away is observed. Participants estimated the probability of a cause, given the presence or the absence of another cause, for situations in which the effect was either present or absent, and the evidence about the effect was either certain or uncertain. Responses were compared to predictions obtained using Bayesian network modeling as well as a sensitivity analysis of the size of normative changes in probability under different information conditions. One of the conditions investigated: when there is certainty that the effect is absent, is special because under the assumption of causal independence, the probabilities of the causes remain invariant, that is, there is no normative explaining away or augmentation. This condition is therefore especially diagnostic of people’s reasoning about common-effect structures. The findings suggest that, alongside earlier explanations brought forward in the literature, explaining away may occur less often when the causes are assumed to interact in their contribution to the effect, and when the normative size of the probability change is not large enough to be subjectively meaningful. Further, people struggled when given evidence against negative evidence, resembling a double negation effect.

Type: Article
Title: Explaining Away, Augmentation, and the Assumption of Independence
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.502751
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.502751
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2020 Cruz, Hahn, Fenton and Lagnado. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: intercausal reasoning, explaining away, noisy-or, uncertain evidence, negative evidence
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/10115840
Downloads since deposit
21Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item