Causality in Decision-Making

York Hagmayer and Philip Fernbach

in The Oxford Handbook of Causal Reasoning

Published in print June 2017 | ISBN: 9780199399550
Published online May 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780190662745 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Causality in Decision-Making

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Although causality is rarely discussed in texts on decision-making, decisions often depend on causal knowledge and causal reasoning. This chapter reviews what is known about how people integrate causal considerations into their choice processes. It first introduces causal decision theory, a normative theory of choice based on the idea that rational decision-making requires considering the causal structure underlying a decision problem. It then provides an overview of empirical studies that explore how causal assumptions influence choice and test predictions derived from causal decision theory. Next it reviews three descriptive theories that integrate causal thinking into decision-making, each in a different way: the causal model theory of choice, the story model of decision-making, and attribution theory. It discusses commonalities and differences between the theories and the role of causality in other decision-making theories. It concludes by noting challenges that lie ahead for research on the role of causal reasoning in decision-making.

Keywords: causal decision-making; causal model; theory of choice; causal narratives; story model; attribution theory

Article.  12256 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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