Empirical evidence has shown that several factors influence whether a compound is represented as several independent components or as a configuration. However, most of the previous research focused on data-driven factors (e.g., modality of the stimuli presented in the experimental task). In one experiment, I analyzed the influence of people’s knowledge about causal mechanisms on compound processing in a causality judgment task. Specifically, via the experimental instructions participants’ knowledge about the causal mechanism through which several potential causes could bring about an effect was manipulated. In the configural causal model condition, the potential causes acted through the same causal mechanism; in the elemental causal model condition, these causes acted through different causal mechanisms; in the neutral causal model condition, the causal mechanisms were not specified. Results showed that participants spontaneously and when they were induced a configural causal model via instructions processed compounds as configurations. In contrast, they processed compounds as several independent components when they were induced via instructions an elemental causal model. I interpret these results as being in line with the predictions of current learning models about compound processing.
"The Influence of Knowledge about Causal Mechanisms on Compound Procesing,"
The Psychological Record: Vol. 57
, Article 9.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/tpr/vol57/iss2/9