Variability in Causal Judgments

Ivar Kolvoort, Zachary J. Davis, Leendert Van Maanen, Bob Rehder

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


People’s causal judgments exhibit substantial variability, but the processes that lead to this variability are not currently understood. In this paper, we studied the within-participant variability of conditional probability judgments in common-cause networks by asking participants to respond to the same causal query multiple times. We establish that these judgments indeed exhibit substantial within-participant variability. This variability differs by inference type and is related to the extent to which participants commit Markov violations. The consistency and systematicity of this variability suggests that it may be an important source of evidence for the cognitive processes that lead to causal judgments. The systematic study of both within- and between-person variability broadens the scope of behavior that can be studied in causal cognition and promotes the evaluation of formal models of the underlying process. The data and methods provided in this paper provide tools to enable the further study of within-participant variability in causal judgment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2021
Event43rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Comparative Cognition: Animal Minds, CogSci 2021 - Virtual, Online, Austria
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021


Conference43rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Comparative Cognition: Animal Minds, CogSci 2021
CityVirtual, Online


  • Markov violations
  • causal reasoning
  • process models
  • variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction


Dive into the research topics of 'Variability in Causal Judgments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this