# A Rational Model of Elemental Diagnostic Inference

- Björn Meder,
*University of Göttingen*
- Ralf Mayrhofer,
*University of Göttingen*
- Michael R. Waldmann,
*University of Göttingen*

## Abstract

Whereas the traditional normative benchmark for diagnostic
reasoning from effects to causes is provided by purely statistical norms, we here
approach the task from the perspective of rational causal inference. The core
feature of the presented model is the assumption that diagnostic inferences are
constrained by hypotheses about the causal texture of the domain. As a
consequence, the model’s predictions systematically deviate from classical,
purely statistical norms of diagnostic inference. In particular, the analysis
reveals that diagnostic judgments should not only be influenced by the
probability of the cause given the effect, but also be systematically affected by
the predictive relation between cause and effect. This prediction is tested in
three studies. The obtained pattern of diagnostic reasoning is at variance with
the traditional statistical norm but consistent with a model of rational causal
inference.

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