Working Memory and Causal Reasoning under Ambiguity

Yiyun ShouThe Australian National University
Michael SmithsonThe Australian National University

Abstract

Causal reasoning involves evaluation and integration of the observed evidence, the quality of which is influenced by the external factors such as uncertainty and the internal factors such as one's cognitive ability. The current experimental study investigated the relationship between working memory (WM), causal reasoning and impacts of ambiguous observations. Results revealed that WM assessed by the n-back task was associated with subjects' causal reasoning under unambiguous condition. The higher n-back scores were associated with lower variability in causal ratings. On the other hand, WM assessed by the operational span task was associated with subjects' reaction to the ambiguous evidence. Subjects with higher span had greater individual difference in their reactions to the ambiguous evidence than those with lower WM capacity.

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