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Abstract

Causal uncertainty refers to feelings that one may not understand the causes of events. A number of studies have shown that causal uncertainty has significant effects on people's processing of information and on important life outcomes. Weary and Edwards have postulated that causal uncertainty is, in part, a cognitive construct that can vary in its accessibility. This assumption has allowed for a variety of predictions to be made about the causes and consequences of causal uncertainty. However, this accessibility assumption has never been directly tested. To do this, in Study 1 an emotional Stroop procedure was used. Higher causal uncertainty was associated with longer latencies to name the color in which causal uncertainty-related words were written compared to uncertainty-irrelevant words. In Study 2, both manipulated and chronic causal uncertainty led to faster times to respond to causal uncertainty-related stimuli in an attitude accessibility task. Both studies are consistent with the theoretically predicted chronic accessibility of causal uncertainty beliefs. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.