Causal supersession

Abstract

When agents violate norms, they are typically judged to be more of a cause of resulting outcomes. In this study, we suggest that norm violations also reduce the causality of other agents, a novel phenomenon we refer to as “causal supersession.” We propose and test a counterfactual reasoning model of this phenomenon in three experiments. Experiment 1 shows that causal judgments of one actor are reduced when another actor violates moral norms, even when the outcome in question is neutral. Experiment 2 shows that this causal supersession effect is dependent on a particular event structure, following a prediction of our counterfactual model. Experiment 3 demonstrates that causal supersession can occur with violation of non-moral norms.

Publication
Kominsky, J. F., Phillips, J., Knobe, J., Gerstenberg, T., & Lagnado, D. A. (2014). Causal supersession. In Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Austin, TX, 2014 (pp. 761-766). Cognitive Science Society.
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