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Papers of the Week

2020 Feb 10

Br J Psychol

Causal illusion as a cognitive basis of pseudoscientific beliefs.


Torres MN, Barberia I, Rodríguez-Ferreiro J
Br J Psychol. 2020 Feb 10.
PMID: 32040216.


Causal illusion has been proposed as a cognitive mediator of pseudoscientific beliefs. However, previous studies have only tested the association between this cognitive bias and a closely related but different type of unwarranted beliefs, those related to superstition and paranormal phenomena. Participants (n = 225) responded to a novel questionnaire of pseudoscientific beliefs designed for this study. They also completed a contingency learning task in which a possible cause, infusion intake, and a desired effect, headache remission, were actually non-contingent. Volunteers with higher scores on the questionnaire also presented stronger causal illusion effects. These results support the hypothesis that causal illusions might play a fundamental role in the endorsement of pseudoscientific beliefs.