The role of intentionality in causal attribution is culturally mediated: evidence from Chinese, Mayan, and Spanish populations

Abstract

Speakers of Mandarin, Spanish, and Yucatec Maya watched videos of two actors involved in a causal chain initiated by one of them. After watching each video, participants divided 10 tokens into piles indicating their assignment of responsibility for the resulting event. There was a significant interaction between intentionality and population: causer and causee intentionality made a significant difference only for the Spanish and Yucatec participants, but not for the Chinese participants. This is in line with previous findings suggesting that internal dispositions play a lesser role in responsibility attribution in societies in which attention to individual agency is far more common than attention to group agency.


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