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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00024

Persistence of causal illusions after extensive training

  • 1University of Barcelona, Spain
  • 2Departamento de Psicología Básica, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
  • 3Institute of Neurosciences, University of Barcelona, Spain

We carried out an experiment using a conventional causal learning task but extending the number of learning trials participants were exposed to. Participants in the standard training group were exposed to 48 learning trials before being asked about the potential causal relationship under examination, whereas for participants in the long training group the length of training was extended to 288 trials. In both groups, the event acting as the potential cause had zero correlation with the occurrence of the outcome, but both the outcome density and the cause density were high, therefore providing a breeding ground for the emergence of a causal illusion. In contradiction to the predictions of associative models such the Rescorla-Wagner model, we found moderate evidence against the hypothesis that extending the learning phase alters the causal illusion. However, assessing causal impressions recurrently did weaken participants’ causal illusions.

Keywords: causal illusion, illusion of causality, contingency learning, causal learning, extensive training, Rescorla-Wagner Model

Received: 21 Sep 2018; Accepted: 07 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Tom Beckers, KU Leuven, Belgium

Reviewed by:

Kosuke Sawa, Senshu University, Japan
Jessica Lee, University of New South Wales, Australia  

Copyright: © 2019 Barberia, Vadillo and Rodríguez-Ferreiro. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). 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.

* Correspondence: Dr. Itxaso Barberia, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain,