Exploring the asymmetrical representation of causal relations in semantic memory
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The current study provides evidence for the dissociation between two types of asymmetries in relations within semantic memory: those due to unidirectional associative strength (e.g., Kahan, Neely & Forsythe, 1999), and the inherent asymmetry of causal relations (e.g., Fenker, Waldmann & Holyoak, 2005). By manipulating the stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) in a relation recognition task, I demonstrate that expectancy differentially impacts the effects of these asymmetries. An asymmetrical directional response time advantage was seen with causal relations at both long (1000 ms) and short (150 ms) SOAs, but only at long SOAs for unidirectional associates. These data are taken to support the hypothesis that latencies due to unidirectional association are a result of the manner in which these relations are accessed, and latencies due to the asymmetry of causal relations are reflective of the manner in which cause-effect asymmetries are represented.