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Posts Tagged ‘Decision Making’

You’re Actually Not Always Correct. I Know! Hard to Believe Right?

November 26th, 2019 3 comments

Us vs. Them

 

Think about the last time you immediately doubted someone’s actions or statements, you thought they were only doing it for their own self-interest. Maybe they stated a political opinion that opposes your own beliefs, or they agreed to complete a survey but only to be compensated with money, at least that’s why you think they did it. Let’s say you and a fellow classmate were talking about whether the new $200 million Colby College athletic complex is reasonable. You say no! The college could spend that money on so many other more beneficial things. However, your classmate says they are all for the new athletic center. You know they’re part of an athletic team so you think to yourself, “Yeah you’re in favor of it because you’re on a team and it would benefit you.” But did you actually take time to think about that person’s reasoning or did you just assume that they were biased and believe that you were the one being objective in the situation? We all may not be aware of it, but we usually expect others to have more personal bias and believe that we are able to judge situations objectively even though that may not be the case, and this is called naïve cynicism. Although this bias may seem really similar to naïve realism, they have some differences. The cognitive bias of naïve realism is the belief that a person can view the world objectively, and so can all the other people who agree with them and are “reasonable”, in their opinion. Instead, everyone else can’t help being subjective because they are all biased.

Naïve cynicism is a cognitive bias that helps explain why humans usually notice other people’s errors more easily than we notice them in ourselves. The term was first coined by Kruger and Gilovich (1999), the first researchers to study this phenomenon experimentally. They performed various studies that all aimed at examining how individuals have cynical expectations regarding how others take responsibility. In one of the studies, pairs of 2 participants played a video game together and then assessed how responsibility for the game outcome was divided between them. They reported their own responsibility for different elements of the game and also how they predicted the other player would divide it. The participants tended to believe that their teammate would take more accountability for elements of the game that contributed to winning over unwanted outcomes of the games such as “missed shots” or “lives lost”. It turns out that people expect others to take more responsibility for themselves in a selfish way, even though that may not be the reality (Kruger & Gilovich, 1999). This expectation that others will egotistically make judgments is a result of naïve cynicism. But, cognitively, how is this phenomenon explained?

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November 26th, 2019 1 comment

 

Read it and weep, Wakefield

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield caused quite a stir in the public health realm after he published a dubious study in a renowned medical journal that suggested the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to the development of autism (Rao and Andrade, 2011). This study terrified parents and, consequently, led to a sharp decline in MMR vaccination rates among children. Shortly after Wakefield’s article was published, numerous scientific studies were conducted that refuted and disproved Wakefield’s fictitious claims. However, it took 12 whole years for the medical journal, the Lancet, to issue a formal retraction of Wakefield’s article on the grounds of deliberate fraud (Rao and Andrade, 2011). In the meantime, as a result of decreased vaccination rates, the measles came back in full force during 2008 and 2009 plaguing the UK, United States, and Canada (Rao and Andrade, 2011). How could such an unfounded claim inspire so much mistrust in vaccinations even after people became aware of the copious refutation studies, the formal retraction, and the fact that Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license over his erroneous declaration? Good question. The culprit in perpetuating the belief in this false claim was repetition.

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Is there truth to the Hot-Hand Fallacy?

April 27th, 2018 2 comments

Have you ever been playing a game of basketball with friends and then you make a shot, and then you make the next one? Did your confidence suddenly go up, despite the fact that the chances of you making the shot again are exactly the same as they were before? You, my friend, have just fallen victim to the hot hand fallacy.  The hot hand fallacy is the belief that because a person has had a successful experience with one event they will be able to reproduce the same event with success again or vice versa where if they miss they are more likely to miss again. The hot hand fallacy has been accepted by the psychology community as a cognitive illusion. A mistake in processing and in pattern recognition, but what if the hot-hand fallacy is not a fallacy at all?

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