Domino effects in causal contradictions

Abstract

Inconsistencies call for reasoners to revise the information that yields them – but which information should they revise? A dominant view is that they should revise their beliefs in a minimal way. An alternative is that the primary task is to explain how the inconsistency arose. One way individuals might violate minimalism is that to reject more information than is strictly necessary to establish consistency. Here, we show that reasoners exhibit such violations of minimalism: as a consequence of their causal knowledge, reasoners reject more information than is strictly necessary to establish consistency. This hypothesis predicts domino effects: when a fact contradicts an element early in an inferred causal chain, reasoners should tend to reject each subsequent event in the chain too. Three studies corroborated domino effects and the causal knowledge hypothesis.


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