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Title: Children's Use of Interventions to Learn Causal Structure
Authors: McCormack, T.
Bramley, N.
Frosch, C. A.
Patrick, F.
Lagnado, D.
First Published: 22-Aug-2015
Publisher: Elsevier for Academic Press
Citation: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 141 (2016) 1–22
Abstract: Children aged between 5 and 8 years freely intervened on a three-variable causal system, with their task being to discover whether it was a common-cause structure or one of two causal chains. From 6-7 years, children were able to use information from their interventions to correctly disambiguate the structure of a causal chain. We used a Bayesian model to examine children’s interventions on the system; this showed that with development children became more efficient in producing the interventions needed to disambiguate the causal structure and that the quality of interventions, as measured by their informativeness, improved developmentally. The latter measure was a significant predictor of children’s correct inferences about the causal structure. A second experiment showed that levels of performance were not reduced in a task in which children did not select and carry out interventions themselves, indicating no advantage for self-directed learning. However, children’s performance was not related to intervention quality in these circumstances, suggesting that children learn in a different way when they carry out interventions themselves.
DOI Link: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.06.017
ISSN: 0022-0965
eISSN: 1096-0457
Version: Published version (Publisher PDF)
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Psychology

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