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Finding fault: causality and counterfactuals in group attributions.

Zultan, R; Gerstenberg, T; Lagnado, DA; (2012) Finding fault: causality and counterfactuals in group attributions. Cognition , 125 (3) 429 - 440. 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.07.014. Green open access

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Abstract

Attributions of responsibility play a critical role in many group interactions. This paper explores the role of causal and counterfactual reasoning in blame attributions in groups. We develop a general framework that builds on the notion of pivotality: an agent is pivotal if she could have changed the group outcome by acting differently. In three experiments we test successive refinements of this notion - whether an agent is pivotal in close possible situations and the number of paths to achieve pivotality. In order to discriminate between potential models, we introduced group tasks with asymmetric structures. Some group members were complements (for the two to contribute to the group outcome it was necessary that both succeed) whereas others were substitutes (for the two to contribute to the group outcome it was sufficient that one succeeds). Across all three experiments we found that people's attributions were sensitive to the number of paths to pivotality. In particular, an agent incurred more blame for a team loss in the presence of a successful complementary peer than in the presence of a successful substitute.

Type: Article
Title: Finding fault: causality and counterfactuals in group attributions.
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.07.014
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2012.07.014
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. PMCID: PMC3657150
Keywords: Adult, Causality, Female, Group Processes, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Models, Psychological, Social Behavior
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/1359174
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