Date of Award

Fall 12-11-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

MS Experimental Psychology

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Kelly Goedert, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marianne Lloyd, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael Vigorito, Ph.D.

Keywords

Causality, Causal Learning, SNARC Effect, Handedness, Embodied Psychology, Cognition

Abstract

Knowledge of cause and effect allows individuals to meaningfully interpret the events they perceive in the world, and the understanding of causality is thought to be grounded in the understanding of forces (Wolf, Ritter, & Holmes, 2014). Previous research has linked handedness with both the ability to exert force (e.g., Linkenauger et al., 2005) and causal learning (e.g., Goedert & Czarnowski, 2017). Historically, number lines have been used to assess causality, but because handedness has a strong spatial element, SNARC effects may influence judgments (Fias, 1996). The current experiment replicates previous work by Goedert and Czarnowski (2017) but changes the assessment measure used to capture causal judgments. Right-handed participants underwent a trial-by-trial learning task where they were instructed to discern how effective various plant liquids were on plant blooming. Instead of using a number line, I created a color selector that reduces the impact of spatio-numeric biases by instructing participants to choose a color they feel accurately captures their causal judgment. Bayesian analyses found that individuals were able to use the color selector to appropriately discern between moderately contingent and non-contingent plant liquids. More importantly, no strong evidence for the presence of spatial biases was found.

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