Causal learning in humans and other animals

Dr. Tom Beckers

University of Leuven

Humans and other animals exhibit an impressive ability at picking up causal relations between events happening in their environments. How exactly they accomplish this has been the subject of considerable debate in the last 20 years. Opponents in this debate have mainly been proponents of associative models on the one hand and defenders of probabilitic models on the other hand. I will present a short historical overview of this debate, as well as recent evidence that suggests that both associative models and statistical models presently fail to capture important characteristics of the learning of relationships between events.

DeHouwer, J., & Beckers, T. (2002). A review of recent developments in research and theories on human contingency learning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 55B, 289-310.