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Abstract

Two different strategies for making causal attributions are distinguished. The first is the classic inductivist approach, which uses covariation information to arrive at causal attributions. The second is the knowledge-structure approach, which uses information relevant to knowledge about plans and goals to explain behaviour. Two experiments are reported in which information activating both types of strategy is given. The results indicate that goal-relevant information activates expectancies that resist the presence of explicit covariation information. The results are interpreted as indicating that expectancies generated by knowledge-structures are therefore different to those activated by verbs, which do not resist the effect of explicit covariation information. It is concluded that knowledge-structures constitute an alternative strategy of causal attribution to the inductivist strategy, and the nature of the relationship between the two strategies is considered.