British Journal of Psychology

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British Journal of Psychology - Early View Articles, Pages ${blockparams.parentJournalIssue.pageRange}

Causal illusion as a cognitive basis of pseudoscientific beliefs

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.

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