Rôle des croyances a priori et de la contiguïté temporelle dans une tâche de raisonnement causal

Authors: Walsh, Sébastien
Advisor: Tremblay, SébastienFortin, Claudette
Abstract: To understand the world he is living in, a human being needs to understand the causal relations that are present in his environment. Even though some researchers recently tried to describe and modelize this ability, the role of the numerous factors implied in this kind of reasoning has yet to be defined more thoroughly. Thus, this thesis aims to explore the interaction between two factors that are not generally studied together, i.e. time contiguity between a cause and its effect and someone’s a priori beliefs. Notably, it is commonly believed that someone should perceive a stronger causal link between a cause and an effect when the time lap between the events is in accordance with his expectations. Unfortunately, results from the literature fail to systematically confirm such a claim. This thesis asserts that this proposition would be empirically confirmed, given that a new methodology is used to test it. Consequently, participants in the present study were asked to judge the strength of a potential causal link between the use of an insecticide and the change of color of the leaves of palm trees. The presentation of information at the beginning of the experience was used to manipulate participant's expectations. The information to be evaluated was presented in a table format. These tables illustrate how many trees, vaporized or not with the insecticide, underwent a change of color in the 5 days following the vaporization. The tables also indicate at what moment, for each affected trees, the change occurred. Experiment 1 shows that, when no expectations are suggested to participants, the strength of the perceived causal link between two events decreases when the time lap between these events increases. However, this phenomenon does not occur if the presence of a delay is suggested at the beginning. Experiment 2 explores all the possible interactions between time contiguity of the events and a priori expectations. It reveals that the perceived strength of the causal link is systematically stronger when the observed time lap between the events is in accordance with someone’s expectation about this time lap, as opposed to non-accordant time laps. These results are discussed in the light of a recent architectural model of causal reasoning.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2013
Open Access Date: 19 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/24597
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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