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Cue Competition Effects and Young Children's Causal and Counterfactual Inferences (2009)

by Teresa McCormack, Stephen A. Butterfill, Christoph Hoerl and Patrick Burns

---Developmental Psychology 45(6), pp. 1563-1575
--- links: external [doi: 10.1037/a0017408]


The authors examined cue competition effects in young children using the blicket detector paradigm, in which objects are placed either singly or in pairs on a novel machine and children must judge which objects have the causal power to make the machine work. Cue competition effects were found in a 5- to 6-year-old group but not in a 4-year-old group. Equivalent levels of forward and backward blocking were found in the former group. Children's counterfactual judgments were subsequently examined by asking whether or not the machine would have gone off in the absence of 1 of 2 objects that had been placed on it as a pair. Cue competition effects were demonstrated only in 5- to 6-year-olds using this mode of assessing causal reasoning.