Ewch i’r prif gynnwys
Yr Athro Marc Buehner PhD Sheffield, MA UCLA, Diploma Regensburg

Yr Athro Marc Buehner

PhD Sheffield, MA UCLA, Diploma Regensburg


Yr Ysgol Seicoleg

+44 (0)29 2087 0035
Adeilad y Tŵr, Plas y Parc, Caerdydd, CF10 3AT
Ar gael fel goruchwyliwr ôl-raddedig


Research summary

My research interest centers on the role causality plays in various aspects of human cognition: How we build causal knowledge from available evidence, how causal knowledge shapes how we experience the world, and how it influences our decision making. I am a cognitive scientist and experimental psychologist.  My research mostly involves adult humans, but sometimes also children, and I take a keen interest in the comparative cognition literature.

I am currently an associate editor of Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science (APS)

Teaching summary

I co-ordinate a final year module on Decision Making, hold second year tutorials, and supervise final year projects in a variety of areas. I also supervise professional placements in industry, schools, and clinical as well as research settings.


Postgraduate education

PhD University of Sheffield Cognitive Psychology   Supervised by Jon May. Fully funded by European Union Training & Mobility of Researchers Programme

Diploma University of Regensburg, Germany Major:   Psychology Minor: Linguistics Final grade: Excellent (1.1) (scale from 1 to 4 where 1 is best)

M.A.  University of California, Los Angeles Cognitive   Psychology Master's Thesis: Causal Judgment and the Power PC Theory GPA: 3.97 (scale from 1 to 4 where 4 is best)

Other Duties

Consulting Editor: Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Ad-Hoc reviewer for numerous journals, including Psychological Science, Cognitive Psychology, and JEP

Grant reviewing (ESRC, EPSRC, NSF(USA))

Book-proposal consultant (McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press)


Since August 2011: Reader, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Wales

August 2007-July 2011: Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Wales

September 2002 - July 2007: Lecturer, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Wales

Autumn Semester 2001 Autumn Semester 2000: Contract Lecturer, Dept. of Psychology, University of Sheffield

January 2002 – August 2002: Post-Doctoral Researcher, Dept. of Psychology, University of Sheffield

October 1998 – December 2001: Research Associate, Dept. of Psychology, University of Sheffield

February-June 1999: Postgraduate Tutor, Dept. of Psychology, University of Sheffield

November 1997 - September 1998: Research Scientist and Lecturer, University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany

September - November 1996: Research Intern, Max-Planck Institute for Psychological Research Cognition and Action Group, Munich, Germany

March - April 1995: Research Intern, Fraunhofer Instititute for Industrial Sciences and Organization, Stuttgart, Germany

Anrhydeddau a Dyfarniadau

Awards/external committees

2010: BPS Cognitive Section Prize

1995-1996: Fulbright Scholar

1993-1997: Friedrich Ebert Fellow

Aelodaethau proffesiynol


European Society for Cognitive Psychology Experimental Psychology Society





  • Buehner, M. 2018. Space, time, and causality. In: Waldmann, M. ed. The Oxford Handbook of Causal Reasoning. Oxford University Press, pp. 549 -564.













  • Buehner, M. J. and McGregor, S. 2005. Probability and contiguity trade-offs in causal induction. Presented at: 27th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Stresa, Italy, 21-23 July 2005 Presented at Bara, B. G., Barsalou, L. W. and Bucciarelli, M. eds.Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates pp. 360-365.
  • Buehner, M. J. 2005. Contiguity and Covariation in Human Causal Inference. Learning and Behavior 33(2), pp. 230-238. (10.3758/BF03196065)
  • Buehner, M. J. and Cheng, P. W. 2005. Causal learning. In: Holyoak, K. J. and Morrison, R. G. eds. The Cambridge Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning. Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 143-168.






  • Buehner, M. J. and Cheng, P. W. 1997. Causal induction: The power PC theory versus the Rescorla-Wagner model. Presented at: Nineteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Stanford, CA, USA, 7-10 August 1997 Presented at Shafto, M. G. and Langley, P. eds.Proceedings of the Nineteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society: August 7-10, 1997, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum pp. 55-60.

Research Topics and Related Papers

Temporal Binding of Cause and Effect -- The Interplay of  Causality with Agency, Intention, and Time Percpetion

That Time is a guide to Causality  -- that cause precedes effect (temporal priority), and effect usually follows the cause straight away (temporal contiguity) -- is well established within cognitive science.  Research at the beginning of this century, however, has suggested that the relation between time and causality is bi-directional: Not only does temporal contiguity signal the presence of a causal relation, but when we know that there is a causal relation, our perception of time contracts.  This temporal binding effect is often (incorrectly) attributed to intentionality (intentional binding), but is in fact rooted in causality,

Hoerl, C., Lorimer, S., McCormack, T., Lagnado, A., Blakey, E., Tecwyn, E. & Buehner, M.J. (2020). Temporal Binding Causation, and Agency: Developing a New Theoretical Framework. Cognitive Science 44.

Fereday, R., Buehner, M.J. & Rushton, S.K. (2019). The role of time perception in temporal binding: Impaired temporal resolution in causal sequences. Cognition 193.

Blakey E., Tecwyn E.C., McCormack T., Lagnado, D.A., Hoerl, C., Lorimer, S. & Buehner, M.J. (2019). When causality shapes the experience of time: Evidence for temporal binding in young children. Dev Sci. 2019;22:e12769. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12769

Fereday, R. & Buehner, M. J. (2017). Temporal Binding and Internal Clocks: No Evidence for a General Slowing of Pacemaker Speed. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 43(5), 971-985.

Buehner, M. J. (2015). Awareness of Voluntary and Involuntary Causal Actions and their Outcomes. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2(3), 237-252.

Buehner, M.J. (2012). Understanding the Past, Predicting the Future: Causation, not Intentional Action, is the Root of Temporal Binding.  Psychological Science, 23(12), 1490-1497.

Humphreys, G. R. & Buehner, M.J. (2010).  Temporal Binding of Action and Effect in Interval Reproduction. Experimental Brain Research, 203(2), 465-470.

Buehner, M.J. & Humphreys, G. R. (2010). Causal Contraction: Spatial Binding in the Perception of Collision Events. Psychological Science, 21(1), 44-48.

Humphreys, G. R. & Buehner, M.J. (2009).  Magnitude estimation reveals temporal binding at super second intervals. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35(5), 1542 - 1549.

Buehner, M.J. & Humphreys, G. R. (2009). Causal binding of actions to their effects. Psychological Science, 20(1), 1221-1228.

Kennedy, J. S., Buehner, M. J., & Rushton, S. K. (2009). Adaptation to sensory-motor temporal misalignment: Instrumental or perceptual learning? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62(3), 453-469.

Causal Inference: The Role of Covariation, Contingency, and Temporal Contiguity

Humans infer causal relations from non-causal statistical input. Traditional (contingency-based) approaches assume that reasoners have access to discrete information about the presence and absence of candidate causes and effects. Yet, real life is not neatly parsed into such 'learning trials'. Instead, deciding whether or not a candidate cause and subsequent effect belong together or should be parsed as an ineffective, failed cause, followed by an effect that occured due to other, unknown causes, is an important part of the inductuve process.

Greville, W. J., Buehner, M. J. & Johansen, M. K. (2020). Causing time: Evaluating causal changes to the when rather than the whether of an outcome.  Memory & Cognition, 15(30).

Greville, W. J. S. & Buehner, M. J. (2016) Temporal Predictability Enhances Judgments of Causality in in elemental causal induction from both observation and intervention. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69 (4), 678-697.

Ab Rashid, A. A. & Buehner, M. J. (2013). Causal Reasoning with Continuous Outcomes.  In: Knauf, M., Sebanz, N., Pauen, M., & Wachsmuth, I. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-fifth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Greville, W.J., & Buehner, M.J. (2012). Assessing Evidence for a Common Function of Delay in Causal Learning and Reward Discounting. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 1-13.

Greville, W.J., Cassar, A., Johansen, M.K., & Buehner, M.J. (2013). Structural Awareness mitigates the Effect of Delay in Human Causal Learning. Memory & Cognition, 41(6), 904-916.

Greville, W.J., & Buehner, M.J. (2010). Temporal Predictability Facilitates Causal Learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology:General, 139(4), 756-771.

Greville, W.J., Cassar, A., Johansen, M.K., & Buehner, M.J. (2010). Structure Awareness in Action-Outcome Learning Eradicates the Detrimental Effect of Reinforcement Delays. In: S. Ohlsson & R. Catrambone (Eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-second Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Buehner, M.J. & May, J. (2009). Causal Induction from Continuous Event Streams: Evidence for Delay-Induced Attribution Shifts. Journal of Problem Solving, 2(2).

Buehner, M.J. & McGregor, S.J. (2009). Probability and Contiguity Trade-Offs in Human Causal Induction. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 22(1).

Greville, W. J., & Buehner, M. J. (2007). The Influence of Temporal Distributions on Causal Induction from Tabular Data. Memory & Cognition, 35(3), 444-453.

Buehner M. J. & McGregor, S. (2006). Temporal Delays can facilitate Causal Attribution: Towards a General Timeframe Bias in Causal Induction. Thinking & Reasoning 12(4), 353-378.

Buehner, M. J. (2005). Contiguity and Covariation in Human Causal Inference.  Learning and Behavior, 33(2), 230-238.

Buehner, M.J. & May, J. (2004).  Abolishing the effect of reinforcement delay on human causal judgments. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 57B (2), 179-191.

Buehner, M.J. & May, J. (2003). Rethinking Temporal Contiguity and the Judgment of Causality:  Effects of Prior Knowledge, Experience, and Reinforcement Procedure. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 56A(5), 865 - 890.

Buehner, M. J., & May, J. (2002). Knowledge mediates the timeframe of covariation assessment in human causal induction.  Thinking & Reasoning 8(4), 269-295.

From Covariation to Causation

Causal inference goes beyond the mere tracking of associations: Cauality has inherent directionality, while associations do not. Yet, associative leardning theories are often used to model human causal inference. In this line of work, I show that this approach is not tenable, and that humans represent causality in line with theories that postulate an understanding of causal powers, i.e. invariant properties of the environment.

Booth, S.L. & Buehner, M.J. (2007).  Asymmetries in Cue Competition in Forward and Backward Blocking Designs: Further Evidence for Causal Model Theory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60(3), 387-399.

Buehner, M. J. (2006). A causal power approach to learning with rates. In: R. Sun & N. Miyake (Eds.), Proceedings of the Twenty-eighth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Buehner, M. J., Cheng, P.W., & Clifford, D. (2003). From covariaton to causation: A test of the assumption of causal power. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 29 (6), 1119-11140.

Decision Making & Dishonesty

I am interested in applying psychological theories and principles to everyday behaviours and consumer preferences

Buehner, M. J., & Townsend, E. (2015). A Rude Assessment and I’m Faking It: Witnessing Incivility Compels People to Cheat.  Assessment and Development Matters, 7(4), 20-24.

Storey, K., Jiga, G. & Buehner, M.J. (2013). Smokers Discount their Drug of Abuse in the Same Way as Other Consumable Rewards.  Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 66(10), 1992-2007.

Saunders, T. & Buehner, M.J. (2013). The Gut chooses Faster than the Mind: A Latency Advantage of Affective over Cognitive Decisions. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology , 66(2),381-388.

Evans, L. & Buehner, M.J. (2011). Small Samples Do Not Cause Greater Accuracy - But Clear Data May Cause Small Samples. Comment on Fiedler and Kareev (2006).  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 37(3), 792-799.

Cavazza, M. O., Lugrin, J-L., & Buehner, M. J. (2007). Causal Perception in Virtual Reality and its Implications for Presence Factors. Presence, 16(6), 623-642.

Vera-Muños, S. C., Shackell, M., & Buehner, M. J. (2007). Accountants’ Usage of Causal Business Models in the Presence of Benchmark Data. Contemporary Accounting Research, 24(3), 1015-1038.

Plunkett, H. R. & Buehner, M. J. (2007). The Relation of General and Specific Locus of Control to Intertemporal Monetary Choice. Personality and Individual Differences, 42(7), 1233-1242.

Lugrin, J-L., Cavazza, M.O., & Buehner, M.J. (2006). Causal Perception in Virtual Environments. In A.Butz et al. (Eds.) Smart Graphics 2006. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Berlin: Springer. pp50-61.

White, M, Pahl, S, Buehner, M. J., & Haye, A. (2003).  Trust in Risky Messages: The role of prior attitudes.  Risk Analysis, 23(4), 717-726.

Book Chapters and Overview Papers

Buehner, M. J. (2017). Time, Space, and Causality. In: Waldmann, M. (Ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Causal Reasoning. Oxford University Press, pp 549 – 564.

Buehner, M. J. (2014). The Psychology of Time and Causality. Euresis Journal

Buehner, M. J. (2014). Time and Causality: Editorial. Frontiers in Psychology, 5.

Cheng, P. W. & Buehner, M. J. (2012). Causal Learning. In Holyoak, K. J. & Morrison, R. G. (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning. Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, pp. 210 – 233.

Buehner, M.J. (2010). Temporal Binding. In: Nobre, C. & Coull, J. (Eds.) Attention and Time. Oxford University Press, pp201-211

Buehner, M. J. & Cheng, P. W. (2005). Causal Learning. In R. Morrison & K. J. Holyoak (Eds.) Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning. Cambridge University Press, pp143-168.

May, J., Buehner, M. J., & Duke, D. (2002). Continuity in Cognition. Universal Access in the Information Society, 1(4), 252-262.


2019-2020: Temporal Binding in Interval and Event Perception (FAPESP) £4,500

2015-2018: Time and Causality in Cognitive Development (Leverhulme Trust) £229,000

2005-2008: Causality Induced Perceptual Shifts in Event Perception (EPSRC)  £120,000

2005: Confidence, Reliability, and Causal Learning (ESRC) Co-Investigators:  York Hagmayer and Peter White £45,498

2002: The Influence of Delay on Human Causal Reasoning (ESRC)  Co-Investigator: Jon May £39,840

2002-2003: The Influence of Delay on Human Causal Reasoning (Cardiff Young  Researchers) £29,706

2003-2005: Temporal Contiguity and Blocking in Human Causal Reasoning  (British Council) Collaboration with Michael Waldmann, Göttingen, Germany   £2,860

I’ve also been supported by travel grants from the Royal Society, and summer bursaries from the EPS.

Current Collaborators

Christos Bechlivanidis (UCL)
Andre Cravo (UFABC)
James Greville (University of South Wales)
Christoph Hoerl (Warwick)
Mark Johansen (Cardiff University)
David Lagnado (UCL)
Axel Lindner (U Tübingen)
Teresa McCormack (Quuens Belfast)
Emma Tecwyn (Birmingham City)
Manuel Roth (U Tübingen)

Peter White (Cardiff University)
Mark Johansen (Cardiff University)

Jon May (Plymouth; delay and causal learning)
Sandra Vera-Muñoz (Notre Dame, USA; causal models in accounting decisions)
Michael Waldmann & York Hagmayer (Göttingen, Germany; temporal contiguity and blocking)

External Collaborators


Postgraduate research interests

My main research interests at the moment are causality, timing, and perception, and how these three relate to one another. With respect to causality, I have felt for some time that the current dominant approach, with   its focus on probability and contingency suffers is too limited because it cannot take into account variations of cause-effect timing, or causally-induced changes of event timing. So ultimately, the question here is how time influences our conception of causality. In the area of perception, I am interested in the reverse question: How conceptions of causality influence basic aspects of low-level perception, most notably time and space perception. I am also   interested in more general aspects of time perceptions and perceptual distortions of time, through agency, intention, or other factors. Timing also features in many areas of decision making (e.g. temporal discounting, planning etc.), and I’d also be interested to supervise projects in this area.

For more information on my research in all of these areas, please see my publications or research pages.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page), or submit a formal application.

Current students

James Greville. James studies how temporal aspects of covariational information influence causal learning. More specifically, he has found that temporal predictability facilitates learning, a finding which is at variance with  conventional ideas of learning, including associative learning, where variability of practice typically confers an advantage.  He organized a  symposium at the 2010 EPS/SEPEX conference on non-covariational cues to  causality. James has now taken on a post in Swansea.

Past projects

Previous students

Laurel Evans. Laurel is interested in what determines whether people make good choices. She studies this both from a general and an individual differences perspective. On the general level, she has developed a rational model of sampling-based choice, which appears to be superior to various other competing models. On the individual level, she has found that a disposition towards  “Need for Cognition” (NFC) may not be as beneficial as previously thought. Individuals high in NFC tend to enjoy mental exercise and analytical thinking. Consequently, it was thought that this style should be taught in schools to improve pupil aptitude. Laurel found, however, that individuals high in NFC tend to spend more time on choice-tasks without any apparent gain in accuracy compared to those low in NFC. Thus, they are less inefficient.

Jon Kennedy (Jointly with Simon Rushton). Jon studied how temporal information from different modalities (e.g. proprioception & vision) is aligned. More specifically, he investigated to what extent the sensory system can adapt to and compensate for misalignment, which naturally occurs due to different nerve conduction times in different modalities or due to growth in development. He investigated whether compensation reflects behavioural change (learning) or perceptual re-alignment. Jon is now a post-doc with Dr. Chris Miall in Birmingham

Gruffydd Humphreys. Gruff has worked on the temporal causal binding project and showed that the binding effect is robust across different experimental procedures, and extends over intervals much longer than previously reported. He also showed that intentionality in the absence of causality fails to result in binding, and hence concluded that 'causal binding’ rather than 'intentional binding’ is the correct terminology.