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2 - Representativeness Revisited: Attribute Substitution in Intuitive Judgment

from PART ONE - THEORETICAL AND EMPIRICAL EXTENSIONS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Daniel Kahneman
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy Princeton University
Shane Frederick
Affiliation:
Sloan School of Management Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Thomas Gilovich
Affiliation:
Cornell University, New York
Dale Griffin
Affiliation:
Stanford University, California
Daniel Kahneman
Affiliation:
Princeton University, New Jersey
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Summary

The program of research now known as the heuristics and biases approach began with a survey of 84 participants at the 1969 meetings of the Mathematical Psychology Society and the American Psychological Association (Tversky & Kahneman, 1971). The respondents, including several authors of statistics texts, were asked realistic questions about the robustness of statistical estimates and the replicability of research results. The article commented tongue-in-heek on the prevalence of a belief that the law of large numbers applies to small numbers as well: Respondents placed too much confidence in the results of small samples, and their statistical judgments showed little sensitivity to sample size.

The mathematical psychologists who participated in the survey not only should have known better – they did know better. Although their intuitive guesses were off the mark, most of them could have computed the correct answers on the back of an envelope. These sophisticated individuals apparently had access to two distinct approaches for answering statistical questions: one that is spontaneous, intuitive, effortless, and fast; and another that is deliberate, rule-governed, effortful, and slow. The persistence of large biases in the guesses of experts raised doubts about the educability of statistical intuitions. Moreover, it was known that the same biases affect choices in the real world, where researchers commonly select sample sizes that are too small to provide a fair test of their hypotheses (Cohen, 1969, 1992).

Type
Chapter
Information
Heuristics and Biases
The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment
, pp. 49 - 81
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2002

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