Date of Award

1-1-2009

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Young, Michael

Abstract

In this study of causal decision-making, a video game was adapted to explore factors affecting causal judgment in a dynamic setting. In the experiment, participants were presented with groups of potential targets. Causal delay and number of alternatives were varied. The participants were tasked with discriminating which one of the potential targets was producing a secondary event in the form of distal explosions on objects that the participant was instructed to preserve. Choice accuracies and latencies were recorded for each participant. For the analysis, choice accuracies were converted into discriminability metrics using signal detection theory. The experiment revealed a main effect of delay on discriminability but no effect of the number of alternatives. There were main effects of the number of alternatives, sex, as well as a Delay × Number of alternatives interaction on latency. The results suggest that discriminability is maintained across different numbers of targets by compensating with longer observation times.

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