Associative Accounts of Causality Judgments

Martha Escobar and Ralph R. Miller

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Cognition

Second edition

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392661
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Associative Accounts of Causality Judgments

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience



This chapter reviews the successes and failures of associative theory as an account of causal learning, the most prominent alternative approaches, and a possible reconciliation of these seemingly incompatible perspectives. It argues that causal learning can be constructively viewed as a special instance of associative learning, with constraints that mirror the constraints of some other types of associative learning (e.g., taste aversion). But the question of whether the observed parallels reflect analogy or homology has not yet been settled. Researchers should continue looking for analogies and common principles that would lead to organizing the principles of causal learning as well as other associative phenomena.

Keywords: causality; causality judgments; contiguity; contingency; associative theory; associative learning

Article.  13551 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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