York Hagmayer, Björn Meder, Momme von Sydow and Michael Waldmann

Category transfer in sequential causal learning: The unbroken mechanism hypothesis

Cognitive Science

The goal of the present set of studies is to explore the boundary conditions of category transfer in causal learning. Previous research has shown that people are capable of inducing categories based on causal learning input, and they often transfer these categories to new causal learning tasks. However, occasionally learners abandon the learned categories and induce new ones. Whereas previously it has been argued that transfer is only observed with essentialist categories in which the hidden properties are causally relevant for the target effect in the transfer relation, we here propose an alternative explanation, the unbroken mechanism hypothesis. This hypothesis claims that categories are transferred from a previously learned causal relation to a new causal relation when learners assume a causal mechanism linking the two relations that is continuous and unbroken. The findings of two causal learning experiments support the unbroken mechanism hypothesis. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Accession Number: 2011-14317-004. PMID: 21609354 Partial author list: First Author & Affiliation: Hagmayer, York; Department of Psychology, University of Gottingen, Gottingen, Germany. Other Publishers: Elsevier Science; Lawrence Erlbaum; Taylor & Francis. Release Date: 20110926. Correction Date: 20120611. Publication Type: Journal (0100), Peer Reviewed Journal (0110). Format Covered: Electronic. Document Type: Journal Article. Language: English. Major Descriptor: Causality; Learning; Transfer (Learning). Minor Descriptor: Classification (Cognitive Process). Classification: Learning & Memory (2343). Population: Human (10). Location: Germany. Tests & Measures: Michotte Task. Methodology: Empirical Study; Quantitative Study. References Available: Y. Page Count: 32. Issue Publication Date: Jul, 2011. Publication History: Accepted Date: Nov 30, 2010; Revised Date: Nov 28, 2010; First Submitted Date: Oct 31, 2007. Copyright Statement: All rights reserved. Cognitive Science Society, Inc. 2011.