Causal beliefs and empirical evidence: Decision-making processes in two-alternative forced-choice tasks

Document Type


Publication Date



Causal beliefs often facilitate decision making. However, strong causal beliefs can also lead to neglect of relevant empirical evidence causing errors in risky decision making (e.g., medical, financial).We investigated the impact of pre-training and post-experience on the evaluation of empirical evidence in a two-alternative medical diagnostic task. Participants actively searched for information about two patients on the basis of four available cues. The first experiment indicated that pre-training can weaken the strong influence of causal beliefs reducing neglect of empirical evidence. The second experiment demonstrated that increasing amounts of empirical evidence can improve people's ability to decide in favor of a correct diagnosis. The current research converges with other recent work to clarify key mechanisms and boundary conditions shaping the influence of causal beliefs and empirical evidence in decisions and causal judgments. © 2011 Hogrefe Publishing.

Publication Title

Experimental Psychology