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Perceptual impressions of causality are affected by common fate

White, Peter A. 2018. Perceptual impressions of causality are affected by common fate. Psychological Research 82 (4) , pp. 652-664. 10.1007/s00426-017-0853-y

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Many studies of perceptual impressions of causality have used a stimulus in which a moving object (the launcher) contacts a stationary object (the target) and the latter then moves off. Such stimuli give rise to an impression that the launcher makes the target move. In the present experiments, instead of a single target object, an array of four vertically aligned objects was used. The launcher contacted none of them, but stopped at a point between the two central objects. The four objects then moved with similar motion properties, exhibiting the Gestalt property of common fate. Strong impressions of causality were reported for this stimulus. It is argued that the array of four objects was perceived, by the likelihood principle, as a single object with some parts unseen, that the launcher was perceived as contacting one of the unseen parts of this object, and that the causal impression resulted from that. Supporting that argument, stimuli in which kinematic features were manipulated so as to weaken or eliminate common fate yielded weaker impressions of causality.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)
ISSN: 0340-0727
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 February 2017
Date of Acceptance: 22 February 2017
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2020 16:45

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