Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 1099–1104 | Cite as

Causal models frame interpretation of mathematical equations

  • Daniel Mochon
  • Steven A. SlomanEmail author
Brief Reports


We offer evidence that people can construe mathematical relations as causal. The studies show that people can select the causal versions of equations and that their selections predict both what they consider most understandable and how they expect variables to influence one another. When asked to write down equations, people have a strong preference for the version that matches their causal model. Causal models serve to structure equations by determining the preferred order of variables: Causes should be on one side of an equality, and a single effect should appear on the other.


Causal Model Causal Structure Modal Choice Causal Interpretation Causal Graph 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognitive and Linguistic SciencesBrown UniversityProvidence

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