Daniela Fenker, Michael Waldmann and Keith Holyoak

Accessing causal relations in semantic memory

Memory & Cognition

Most studies investigating semantic memory have focused on taxonomic or associative relations. Little is known about how other relations, such as causal relations, are represented and accessed. In three experiments, we presented participants with pairs of words one after another, describing events that referred to either a cause (e.g., spark) or an effect (e.g., fire). We manipulated the temporal order of word presentation and the question participants had to respond to. The results revealed that questions referring to the existence of a causal relation are answered faster when the first word refers to a cause and the second word refers to its effect than vice versa. However, no such asymmetry was observed with questions referring to the associative relation. People appear to distinguish the roles of cause and effect when queried specifically about a causal relation, but not when the same information is evaluated for the presence of an associative relation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Accession Number: 2006-01392-008. PMID: 16496724 Partial author list: First Author & Affiliation: Fenker, Daniela B.; Otto von Guericke University, Magdeburg, Germany. Other Publishers: Springer. Release Date: 20060221. Correction Date: 20160516. Publication Type: Journal (0100), Peer Reviewed Journal (0110). Format Covered: Print. Document Type: Journal Article. Language: English. Conference Information: Annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, 2001, Orlando, FL, US. Conference Note: Portions of this research were presented at the aforementioned conference, at the 2002 conference of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie, Berlin; and at the 2004 International Psychology Congress, Beijing. Major Descriptor: Causality; Semantic Memory; Words (Phonetic Units). Minor Descriptor: Associative Processes. Classification: Learning & Memory (2343). Population: Human (10). Location: US. Age Group: Adulthood (18 yrs & older) (300). Methodology: Empirical Study; Quantitative Study. References Available: Y. Page Count: 11. Issue Publication Date: Sep, 2005.