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Representation and reasoning: a causal model approach

Nikolic, M; (2014) Representation and reasoning: a causal model approach. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

How do we represent our world and how do we use these representations to reason about it? The three studies reported in this thesis explored different aspects of the answer to this question. Even though these investigations offered diverse angles, they all originated from the same psychological theory of representation and reasoning. This is the idea that people represent the world and reason about it by constructing dynamic qualitative causal networks. The first study investigated how mock jurors represent criminal evidence and reason with such representations. The second study examined how people represent the causes of a complex environmental problem and how their individual representations are directly linked to how they reason about the issue. The third and final study inspected how people represent causal loops and reason in accordance with these cyclical representations. These studies suggest that people do represent the world by arranging evidence, causes, or pieces of information into a causal network. In addition, the studies support the idea that these networks are of a qualitative nature. All three studies also indicated that people update their representations in accordance to a dynamic world. The studies specifically explored how reasoning, and therefore judgment is linked to these representations. The thesis discusses the theoretical implications of these and other findings for the causal model framework as well as for cognitive science more generally. Related practical implications include the importance of understanding naïve causal models for applied fields such as legal decision-making and environmental psychology.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Representation and reasoning: a causal model approach
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: causal model, reasoning, representation, decision-making
UCL classification: 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 > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1420696
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