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      Causal Illusions in the Service of Political Attitudes in Spain and the United Kingdom


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          The causal illusion is a cognitive bias that results in the perception of causality where there is no supporting evidence. We show that people selectively exhibit the bias, especially in those situations where it favors their current worldview as revealed by their political orientation. In our two experiments (one conducted in Spain and one conducted in the United Kingdom), participants who self-positioned themselves on the ideological left formed the illusion that a left-wing ruling party was more successful in improving city indicators than a right-wing party, while participants on the ideological right tended to show the opposite pattern. In sum, despite the fact that the same information was presented to all participants, people developed the causal illusion bias selectively, providing very different interpretations that aligned with their previous attitudes. This result occurs in situations where participants inspect the relationship between the government’s actions and positive outcomes (improving city indicators) but not when the outcomes are negative (worsening city indicators).

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          Judgment of contingency in depressed and nondepressed students: sadder but wiser?

          How are humans' subjective judgments of contingencies related to objective contingencies? Work in social psychology and human contingency learning predicts that the greater the frequency of desired outcomes, the greater people's judgments of contingency will be. Second, the learned helplessness theory of depression provides both a strong and a weak prediction concerning the linkage between subjective and objective contingencies. According to the strong prediction, depressed individuals should underestimate the degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes relative to the objective degree of contingency. According to the weak prediction, depressed individuals merely should judge that there is a smaller degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes than nondepressed individuals should. In addition, the present investigation deduced a new strong prediction from the helplessness theory: Nondepressed individuals should overestimate the degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes relative to the objective degree of contingency. In the experiments, depressed and nondepressed students were present with one of a series of problems varying in the actual degree of contingency. In each problem, subjects estimated the degree of contingency between their responses (pressing or not pressing a button) and an environmental outcome (onset of a green light). Performance on a behavioral task and estimates of the conditional probability of green light onset associated with the two response alternatives provided additional measures for assessing beliefs about contingencies. Depressed students' judgments of contingency were surprisingly accurate in all four experiments. Nondepressed students, on the other hand, overestimated the degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes when noncontingent outcomes were frequent and/or desired and underestimated the degree of contingency when contingent outcomes were undesired. Thus, predictions derived from social psychology concerning the linkage between subjective and objective contingencies were confirmed for nondepressed students but not for depressed students. Further, the predictions of helplessness theory received, at best, minimal support. The learned helplessness and self-serving motivational bias hypotheses are evaluated as explanations of the results. In addition, parallels are drawn between the present results and phenomena in cognitive psychology, social psychology, and animal learning. Finally, implications for cognitive illusions in normal people, appetitive helplessness, judgment of contingency between stimuli, and learning theory are discussed.
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            Illusory correlation in interpersonal perception: A cognitive basis of stereotypic judgments

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              The Ideological-Conflict Hypothesis


                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                28 June 2018
                : 9
                [1] 1Departamento de Fundamentos y Métodos de la Psicología, University of Deusto , Bilbao, Spain
                [2] 2Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Humanas, University of Deusto , Bilbao, Spain
                Author notes

                Edited by: Jeremy A. Frimer, University of Winnipeg, Canada

                Reviewed by: Guillermo B. Willis, Universidad de Granada, Spain; Gayannee Kedia, University of Graz, Austria

                *Correspondence: Fernando Blanco, fernandoblanco@ 123456deusto.es

                This article was submitted to Personality and Social Psychology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Copyright © 2018 Blanco, Gómez-Fortes and Matute.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 8, Tables: 10, Equations: 1, References: 49, Pages: 14, Words: 0
                Original Research

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                cognitive bias,causal illusion,political orientation,motivated reasoning,causality


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