The hypothesis that human reasoning and decision-making can be roughly modeled by Expected Utility Theory has been at the core of decision science. Accumulating evidence has led researchers to modify the hypothesis. One of the latest additions to the field is Dual Process theory, which attempts to explain variance between participants and tasks when it comes to deviations from Expected Utility Theory. It is argued that Dual Process theories at this point cannot replace previous theories, since they, among other things, (...) lack a firm conceptual framework, and have no means of producing independent evidence for their case. (shrink)
Uncertainty, insufficient information or information of poor quality, limited cognitive capacity and time, along with value conflicts and ethical considerations, are all aspects thatmake risk managementand riskcommunication difficult. This paper provides a review of different risk concepts and describes how these influence risk management, communication and planning in relation to forest ecosystem services. Based on the review and results of empirical studies, we suggest that personal assessment of risk is decisive in the management of forest ecosystem services. The results are (...) used together with a reviewof different principles of the distribution of risk to propose an approach to risk communication that is effective aswell as ethically sound. Knowledge of heuristics and mutual information on both beliefs and desires are important in the proposed risk communication approach. Such knowledge provides an opportunity for relevant information exchange, so that gaps in personal knowledge maps can be filled in and effective risk communication can be promoted. (shrink)
If we know that certain ways of making decisions are associated with real-life success, is this then how we should decide? In this paper the relationship between normative and descriptive theories of decision-making is examined. First, it is shown that the history of the decision sciences ensures that it is impossible to separate descriptive theories from normative ones. Second, recent psychological research implies new ways of arguing from the descriptive to the normative. The paper ends with an evaluation of how (...) this might affect normative theories of decision-making. (shrink)
A key question for evidence-based medicine is how best to model the way in which EBM should‘[integrate] individual clinical expertise and the best external evidence’. We argue that the formulations and models available in the literature today are modest variations on a common theme and face very similar problems when it comes to risk analysis, which is here understood as a decision procedure comprising a factual assessment of risk, the risk assessment, and the decision what to do based on this (...) assessment, the risk management. Both the early and updated models of evidence-based clinical decisions presented in the writings of Haynes, Devereaux and Guyatt assume that EBM consists of, among other things, evidence from clinical research together with information about patients’ values and clinical expertise. On this A-view, EBM describes all that goes on in a specific justifiable medical decision. There is, however, an alternative interpretation of EBM, the B-view, in which EBM describes just one component of the decision situation and in which, together with other types of evidence, EBM leads to a justifiable clincial decision but does not describe the decision itself. This B-view is inspired by a 100-years older version of EBM, a Swedish standard requiring medical decision-making, professional risk-taking and practice to be in accordance with‘science and proven experience’. In the paper, we outline how the Swedish concept leads to an improved understanding of the way in which scientific evidence and clinical experience can and cannot be integrated in light of EBM. How scientific evidence and clinical experience is integrated influences both the way we do risk assessment and risk management. In addition, the paper sketches the as yet unexplored historical background to VBE and EBM. (shrink)
Recently the importance of addressing values in discussions of risk perception and adaptation to climate change has become manifest. Values-based approaches to climate change adaptation and the cultural cognition thesis both illustrate this trend. We argue that in the wake of this development it is necessary to take the dynamic relationship between values and beliefs seriously, to acknowledge the possibility of bi-directional relationships between values and beliefs, and to address the variety of values involved. The dynamic relationship between values and (...) beliefs, we claim, highlights the need to bring ethical considerations to bear on climate change communication. In particular, we must ask whether it is acceptable to tailor information about the risks of climate change in an effort to maximize communicative effectiveness given the values of the target group. (shrink)
This article is concerned with how we make decisions based on how problems are presented to us and the effect that the framing of the problem might have on our choices. Current philosophical and psychological accounts of the framing effect in experiments such as the Asian Disease Problem concern reference points and domains. We question the importance of reference points and domains. Instead, we adopt a linguistic perspective focussing on the role of the evaluative polarity evoked by the words - (...) negativeand positive - used to describe the options in the decision problem. We show that the evaluative polarity of the different wordings in the ADP better explain participants’ behaviour than reference points and domains. We propose two models in which the values given to evaluative polarity words directly influence the strength of framing. The results indicate that linguistic considerations regarding evaluative polarity have to be considered in relation to the ADP. The account resembles Fuzzy-Trace-Theory but allows for thestrength of evaluative polarity to directly affect behaviour. In the discussion, we also assess how evaluative polarity relates to negation, antonyms and the communicative frame within which the choices are presented. (shrink)
To evaluate the success of simple heuristics we need to know more about how a relevant heuristic is chosen and how we learn which cues are relevant. These meta-abilities are at the core of ecological rationality, rather than the individual heuristics.
Revised simulation theory allows mental state attributions containing some or all of the attributor's genuine, non-simulated mental states. It is thought that this gives the revised theory an empirical advantage, because unlike theory theory and rationality theory, it can explain egocentric bias. I challenge this view, arguing that theory theory and rationality theory can explain egocentricity by appealing to heuristic mindreading and the diagnosticity of attributors' own beliefs, and that these explanations are as simple and consistent as those provided by (...) revised simulation theory. (shrink)
The visual behaviour of consumers buying products in a supermarket was measured and used to analyse the stages of their decision process. Traditionally metrics used to trace decision-making processes are difficult to use in natural environments that often contain many options and unstructured information. Unlike previous attempts in this direction, our methodology reveals differences between a decision-making task and a search task. In particular the second stage of a decision task contains more re-dwells than the second stage of a comparable (...) search task. This study addresses the growing concern of taking eye movement research from the laboratory into the ‘real-world’, so findings can be better generalised to natural situations. (shrink)
One challenge that has to be addressed by the fast and frugal heuristics program is how people manage to select, from the abundance of cues that exist in the environment, those to rely on when making decisions. We hypothesize that causal knowledge helps people target particular cues and estimate their validities. This hypothesis was tested in three experiments. Results show that when causal information about some cues was available, participants preferred to search for these cues first and to base their (...) decisions on them. When allowed to learn cue validities in addition to causal information, participants also became more frugal, made more accurate decisions, and were more precise in estimating cue validities than was a control group that did not receive causal information. These results can be attributed to the causal relation between the cues and the criterion, rather than to greater saliency of the causal cues. Overall, our results support the hypothesis that causal knowledge aids in the learning of cue validities and is treated as a meta-cue for identifying highly valid cues. (shrink)
How does an individual decision maker update his or her beliefs in the light of others’ beliefs? We present an empirical investigation that varies decision makers’ access to other peoples’ beliefs: whether they know what course of action others have taken and whether they know why this course of action was taken.We propose a number of process models of advice taking that do and do not accommodate the reasons given for belief, and evaluate which is used through model comparison techniques.
Researchers often aim to make correct inferences both about that which is actually studied and about what the results generalize to. The language of internal and external validity is not used by everyone, but many of us would agree that intuitively the distinction makes a lot of sense. Two claims are commonly made with respect to internal and external validity. The first is that internal validity is prior to external validity since there is nothing to generalize if the findings obtained (...) in, for instance, the experimental setting do not hold. The first claim is explicit in many writings. See for instance Francisco Guala’s influential book The methodology of experimental economics. And it is often implicitly relied on. The second claim is that researchers have to make a trade-off between internal and external validity. When one is increased, the other will decrease. The second claim was made already from the start by D.T Campbell in his classic Factors relevant to the validity of experiments in social settings. There is a certain tension between the first and the second claim. It has been argued before that it might be difficult to combine them. We intend to make the stronger point that both claims are misconstrued. Our hypothesis is that the relationship between internal and external validity has to be re-conceptualized, and we will briefly indicate how. (shrink)
We show that the common claim that internal validity should be understood as prior to external validity has, at least, three epistemologically problematic aspects: experimental artefacts, the implications of causal relations, and how the mechanism is measured. Each aspect demonstrates how important external validity is for the internal validity of the experimental result.
Reinforcement learning systems usually assume that a value function is defined over all states that can immediately give the value of a particular state or action. These values are used by a selection mechanism to decide which action to take. In contrast, when humans and animals make decisions, they collect evidence for different alternatives over time and take action only when sufficient evidence has been accumulated. We have previously developed a model of memory processing that includes semantic, episodic and working (...) memory in a comprehensive architecture. Here, we describe how this memory mechanism can support decision making when the alternatives cannot be evaluated based on immediate sensory information alone. Instead we first imagine, and then evaluate a possible future that will result from choosing one of the alternatives. Here we present an extended model that can be used as a model for decision making that depends on accumulating evidence over time, whether that information comes from the sequential attention to different sensory properties or from internal simulation of the consequences of making a particular choice. We show how the new model explains both simple immediate choices, choices that depend on multiple sensory factors and complicated selections between alternatives that require forward looking simulations based on episodic and semantic memory structures. In this framework, vicarious trial and error is explained as an internal simulation that accumulates evidence for a particular choice. We argue that a system like this forms the “missing link” between more traditional ideas of semantic and episodic memory, and the associative nature of reinforcement learning. (shrink)
The Swedish medico-legal concept of “science and proven experience” is both legally important and ambiguous. The conceptual uncertainty associated with it can hamper effective assessment of medical evidence in legal proceedings and encourage medical professionals to distrust legal regulation. We examine normative criteria a functioning medico-legal notion should presumably meet, e.g. clarity, acceptability and consistency with existing laws. We also survey healthcare professionals to see how they understand science and proven experience and thus determine the extent to which their understanding (...) meets the normative criteria. The survey suggests that medical professionals feel more certain about “science and proven experience” in the medical context than they do in a legal context. They still have substantial trust in the legal use of the notion, but they do not believe that legal professionals should be allowed to determine the meaning of “science and proven experience” in the legal context. With these results in mind, we argue that the best way to meet the normative criteria and resolve conceptual uncertainty is to specify sub-questions that clarify the notion. We recommend an analytical-deliberative approach that will close the gap between the medical and legal professions’ perceptions of how law and medicine relate. (shrink)
This book is intended as an introduction to the breadth of current research in cognitive science, with the research at Lund University Cognitive Science as our sample. The result is a smorgasbord for readers with some background in the neighbouring disciplines. Through the chapters we will follow some of the important cross-disciplinary issues in cognitive science. One is how the external world is represented, from cognitive maps in rats, to drawings made to enhance communication, or the organization of semantic knowledge. (...) Another is to what extent such representations really are used: the world is often its own best model in areas from robotics to choice, and several chapters illustrate that even communication is firmly situated in and constrained by its surroundings. In addition, many chapters emphasize the essentially dynamic relationship between mind and environment, in areas from development to interaction and learning. A third thread is how research concerning other animals= cognitive capacities, from pigeons to chimpanzees, has inspired research on human cognition, and how this comparative approach can be made to incorporate also non-animate fellow beings, such as robots and virtual characters. In sum, the book contains most of the areas we think are important in cognitive science today, and we hope that it will be of use for beginning researchers and advanced students in the area. Its production is part of the celebrations of Lund University Cognitive Science’s 20th anniversary. Our group hosts researchers with backgrounds in psychology, philosophy, computer science, linguistics, computational neuroscience, education, etc., and all of us have a multidisciplinary education. We encourage you to visit our web pages at www.lucs.lu.se to learn more about the activities of the group. (shrink)
A key premise of the heuristics-and-biases program is that heuristics are “quite useful.” Let us now pay more than lip service to this premise, and analyse the environmental structures that make heuristics more or less useful. Let us also strike from the long list of biases those phenomena that are not biases and explore to what degree those that remain are adaptive or can be understood as by-products of adaptive mechanisms.
It is difficult to overestimate Paul Meehl's influence on judgment and decision-making research. His 'disturbing little book' Clinical versus Statistical Prediction: A Theoretical Analysis and a Review of the Evidence is known as an attack on human judgment and a call for replacing clinicians with actuarial methods. More than 40 years later, fast and frugal heuristics - proposed as models of human judgment - were formalized, tested, and found to be surprisingly accurate, often more so than the actuarial models that (...) Meehl advocated. We ask three questions: Do the findings of the two programs contradict each other? More generally, how are the programs conceptually connected? Is there anything they can learn from each other? After demonstrating that there need not be a contradiction, we show that both programs converge in their concern to develop domain-specific models of judgment and nonlinear process models that arise from the bounded nature of judgment. We then elaborate the differences between the programs and discuss how these differences can be viewed as mutually instructive: First, we show that the fast and frugal heuristic models can help bridge the clinical - actuarial divide, that is, they can be developed into actuarial methods that are both accurate and easy to implement by the unaided clinical judge. We then argue that Meehl's insistence on improving judgment makes clear the importance of examining the degree to which heuristics are used in the clinical domain and how acceptable they would be as actuarial tools. (shrink)
A key question for evidence-based medicine is how best to model the way in which EBM should “[integrate] individual clinical expertise and the best external evidence”. We argue that the formulations and models available in the literature today are modest variations on a common theme and face very similar problems. For example, both the early and updated models of evidence-based clinical decisions presented in Haynes, Devereaux and Guyatt assume that EBM consists of, among other things, evidence from clinical research and (...) clinical expertise. On this A-view, EBM describes all that goes on in a specific justifiable medical decision. There is, however, an alternative interpretation of EBM, the B-view, in which EBM describes just one component of the decision situation and in which, together with other types of evidence, EBM leads to a justifiable clincial decision but does not describe the decision itself. This B-view is inspired by a 100-years older version of EBM, a Swedish standard requiring medical decision-making and practice to be in accordance with ‘science and proven experience’. In the paper we outline how the Swedish concept leads to an improved understanding of the way in which scientific evidence and clinical experience can and cannot be integrated in light of EBM. In addition the paper sketches the as yet unexplored historical background to EBM. (shrink)
We have analyzed the long-term success of various social learning heuristics. Specifically, we have examined their ability to persist and to replace other heuristics, and we have done this in two broadly different kinds of environments: environments in which the optimal behavior varies across space, or through time. Because each social learning heuristic also shapes its environment as individuals use it, our analysis has been at the same time ecological, game-theoretic, and evolutionary: The performance of each social learning heuristic depends (...) on assumptions about the environment and population structure in which it is used. The use of a particular social learning heuristic will affect the success of this and other social learning heuristics over time. Therefore, our analysis is directed at the long-term survival and reproduction of each social learning heuristic. (shrink)
Background. To inform their health decisions, patients may seek narratives describing other patients' evaluations of their treatment experiences. Narratives can provide anti-treatment or pro-treatment evaluative meaning that low-numerate patients may especially struggle to derive from statistical information. Here, we examined whether anti-vaccine narratives had relatively stronger effects on the perceived informativeness and judged vaccination probabilities reported among recipients with lower numeracy. Methods. Participants from a nationally representative US internet panel were randomly assigned to an anti-vaccine or pro-vaccine narrative, as presented (...) by a patient discussing a personal experience, a physician discussing a patient's experience, or a physician discussing the experiences of 50 patients. Anti-vaccine narratives described flu experiences of patients who got the flu after getting vaccinated; pro-vaccine narratives described flu experiences of patients who got the flu after not getting vaccinated. Participants indicated their probability of getting vaccinated and rated the informativeness of the narratives. Results. Participants with lower numeracy generally perceived narratives as more informative. By comparison, participants with higher numeracy rated especially anti-vaccine narratives as less informative. Anti-vaccine narratives reduced the judged vaccination probabilities as compared with pro-vaccine narratives, especially among participants with lower numeracy. Mediation analyses suggested that low-numerate individuals' vaccination probabilities were reduced by anti-vaccine narratives - and, to a lesser extent, boosted by pro-vaccine narratives - because they perceived narratives to be more informative. These findings were similar for narratives provided by patients and physicians. Conclusions. Patients with lower numeracy may rely more on narrative information when making their decisions. These findings have implications for the development of health communications and decision AIDS. (shrink)
In Persson & Wallin we show that the common claim that internal validity should be understood as prior to external validity has, at least, three epistemologically problematic aspects: experimental artefacts, the implications of causal relations, and how the mechanism is measured. Each aspect demonstrates how important external validity is for the internal validity of the experimental result. This note is an invited summary of these results.
How well can we explain natural occurrences of cognitive behaviours given the theoretical frameworks available to us today? The thesis explores what has to be assumed in cognitive theory in order to provide such an explanation, in contrast to being able to predict behaviour under controlled circumstances. The behaviours considered are all of the type described as involving higher level cognition or being representation hungry. Examples are problem solving and certain types of decision-making. Three different theoretical frameworks are examined: general (...) theories such as Newell and Simon’s Universal Problem Solver, the stances sometimes referred to as “situated cognition,” particularly those that try to exclude cognitive components from their explanatory framework ; and domain-specific theories of cognition. The last category can broadly be separated into two different types of theories: those who claim that specialised cognitive processes are activated through situational features and those who claim that specialised cognitive processes are successful relative such features. The conclusion is that none of the stances are sufficient on their own. The proposed solution is instead to take both the hypothesised domain-specific process and the information it utilises into account. If we allow for “high-quality” information of a more domain-general nature, that indicates which parts of the current situation are important, or makes it possible for the individual to assume certain relations in advance, then this information can account for parts of the flexibility and stability required of the cognitive processes. Examples of such information are causal relations and epistemic information connected to social information. Since these point us to how the features of the situation at hand were produced, they help us identify relevant aspects of, and relations between different situations. By utilising high-quality information, domain-specific processes can be made broader, and less specialised, while keeping a close tie to the situations in which they are active. In this way we can begin to explain real life cognitive behaviours. (shrink)
The environment in which our cognitive processes operate is crucial for understanding their current form, their reliability, and their function. In the following pages I will look at the role the environment plays in psychological explanations of cognitive behaviour, also when the explanations are not of an evolutionary character. In particular, I will focus on how environmental considerations help us explain the form or the function of a psychological process.
When constructivism gives up reality as a way of accounting for representations it looses a powerful tool of explanation. Why do we have the representations we have? How are they interrelated? This article attempts to investigate what possible means a constructivistic theory has to maintain the distinction between representations and experience, between memory and imagination, and between correct and mistaken perceptions. Phenomenological qualities and coherence are the solutions advocated, but how they are combined will have an impact on what sort (...) of constructivistic theories that can be maintained. (shrink)
Misleading information and unfair commercial practices have to be viewed against the background of what consumers otherwise do, i.e., what their purchase decisions look like when no misleading information or no unfair commercial practices are in place. This article provides some of this background by studying how consumers sample information when making an in-store purchase decision. This was done by an eye-tracking study which reveals to what extent consumers succeed in purchasing the products that best meet their purchase intentions when (...) only a representative amount of misleading information is present. The study shows that decisions were suboptimal in relation to what the consumers claimed they wanted to purchase. Only in one product category did consumers in this study actually look at products that were slightly better than average, and as a result, they mainly selected products that were just as often poor as good. If the proportion of bad purchase decisions based on misleading information is small enough, perhaps it might be better to direct the authors’ attention to other ways of improving the decision environments that consumers encounter. In addition, the eye-tracking study provides some insight into how consumers sample information when making an in-store purchase decision. The present data show that consumers invested on average of less than 1 s to look at products. (shrink)
I aim to examine what should be demanded of a constructivistic theory trying to describe the construction of a human belief-system. My claim is that such a theory cannot allow entities in the description of how a human being constructs the world he or she lives, that are not allowed in the act of constructing the life-world. I will argue that the only coherent theories describing this activity are either phenomenological or social. That is, theories where the description of the (...) constructing and the construction of the theory itself are identical or the constructor of the theory is taken to live in the same or a similar life-world as the one described. To substantiate my claims I will closely examine the theory of radical constructivism. This theory can be described as an attempt to give a partly empirical description of a non-social construction of a life-world, from an observer's point of view. I will argue that the attempt is not successful. (shrink)