Daniel Shiloh

Research student, School of Psychology

Research summary

My  research is concerned with how we perceive causality. Specifically, I am  researching temporal binding and phenomenal causality. Temporal binding is an  effect wherein the subjective time interval between a causal event and its  consequence is shortened. Phenomenal causality occurs in response to certain stimuli,  which suggest a causal relationship between two objects, in the absence of a  real causal event. To date, very little work has been done on temporal binding  in phenomenal causality. These have a lot of potential in telling us more about  how both temporal binding and phenomenal causality work, and the processes behind causal  perception.

Research interests

Research topics and related papers

My research is concerned with how  we perceived causality. Specifically, what we can learn about this from the  Temporal Binding effect (also known as causal binding/intentional binding) and  phenomenal causality.

Temporal  binding is the compression in the subjective time  interval between two events perceived to be causally related (i.e. cause and  consequence). It was first identified by Haggard et al (2002) as intentional  binding, as binding was found to occur between an intentional action and its  consequence (a key press followed by a tone). It has since been used to study  the processes responsible for the perception of intentionality and causality,  usually with the assumption that intentionality is necessary for temporal  binding to occur. The importance of intentionality has been disputed, however  (e.g. Buehner & Humphreys, 2009). As most intentional binding studies use  key presses as the initial event, causality and intentionality tend to be  confounded.

Phenomenal  causality occurs at a perceptual level in the absence of a real causal event  (e.g. in response to audio-visual stimuli). Typical stimuli for the study of  these judgements (e.g. Michotte, 1963) are animations of causal events, for  example one disc colliding with another and stopping, followed by the other launching  in the same direction. Such stimuli induce a strong perception of causality,  even without prior experience of the stimuli. Using such stimuli in binding  studies has been difficult, however, as any noticeable delay between the two objects’  collision and the second disc’s movement weakens the perception of causality (Michotte, 1963).

This problem  can be overcome, however, if causal influence is perceived to be transmitted  from object A to object B across a spatial and temporal gap. Recent research  (in preparation) has found that if the spatial separation between two  “colliding” objects is filled with a row of coloured blocks which change colour  in sequence from the block impacted by disc A to the location of disc B, which  proceeds to launch, the perception of causality is not negated by the  separation between the two.

My research  aims to use these cues to study whether binding extends to perceptual  causality, e.g. collision events. How temporal binding manifests in these  stimuli could tell us a lot about the processes behind it – for example whether  it also happens at the perceptual level. Being able to use phenomenal causality  stimuli could also allow us to carefully control perceived causality and find  out more about its role in temporal binding.

Funding

Cardiff University, School of Psychology Studentship

Research group

Cognitive Science

Research collaborators

Dr Marc Buehner
Professor Peter White