Judgement under uncertainty and conjunction fallacy inhibition training

Thinking and Reasoning 9 (3):185 – 201 (2003)
Intuitive predictions and judgements under uncertainty are often mediated by judgemental heuristics that sometimes lead to biases. Our micro-developmental study suggests that a presumption of rationality is justified for adult subjects, in so far as their systematic judgemental biases appear to be due to a specific executive-inhibition failure in working memory, and not necessarily to a lack of understanding of the fundamental principles of probability. This hypothesis was tested using an experimental procedure in which 60 adult subjects were trained to inhibit the classical conjunction bias on a frequency judgement task derived from Tversky and Kahneman's work. Pre- and post-test performance was assessed via a probability judgement task. The data indicated a training effect, suggesting that subjects traditionally labelled as "irrational" with respect to the classical rules of inductive reasoning are in fact "inefficient inhibitors". These findings are discussed in terms of a polymorphous view of rationality.
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