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The dissipation effect: a naive model of causal interactions in complex physical systems

White, Peter Anthony 1999. The dissipation effect: a naive model of causal interactions in complex physical systems. American Journal of Psychology 112 (3) , pp. 331-364. 10.2307/1423635

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When people make judgments about the effects of a perturbation on populations of species in a food web, their judgments exhibit the dissipation effect: a tendency to judge that effects of a perturbation weaken or dissipate as they spread out from the locus of the perturbation. In the present research the effect was not affected by presence or absence of a diagram of the food web or by whether participants were asked to judge change after 1 year or 10 years. It was found to be associated with the structure of the food web, not with the number of links in a causal chain from the perturbation to the species being judged. The effect was strongest in judgments about time periods soon after a perturbation, but did not entirely disappear even in judgments about time periods long after the perturbation. The effect is robust, but a full explanation still awaits elucidation.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
ISSN: 0002-9556
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:09

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