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Avoiding the conjunction fallacy: Who can take a hint?
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Humans repeatedly commit the so called “conjunction fallacy”, erroneously judging the probability of two events occurring together as higher than the probability of one of the events. Certain hints have been shown to mitigate this tendency. The present thesis investigated the relations between three psychological factors and performance on conjunction tasks after reading such a hint. The factors represent the understanding of probability and statistics (statistical numeracy), the ability to resist intuitive but incorrect conclusions (cognitive reflection), and the willingness to engage in, and enjoyment of, analytical thinking (need-for-cognition). Participants (n = 50) answered 30 short conjunction tasks and three psychological scales. A bimodal response distribution motivated dichotomization of performance scores. Need-for-cognition was significantly, positively correlated with performance, while numeracy and cognitive reflection were not. The results suggest that the willingness to engage in, and enjoyment of, analytical thinking plays an important role for the capacity to avoid the conjunction fallacy after taking a hint. The hint further seems to neutralize differences in performance otherwise predicted by statistical numeracy and cognitive reflection.

Abstract [sv]

Människor begår ofta det så kallade ”konjuktionsfelslutet”, genom att felaktigt bedöma sannolikheten för sammanträffandet av två händelser som större än sannolikheten för en av händelserna. Vissa typer av ledtrådar har visat sig mildra denna tendens. Denna uppsats undersökte relationerna mellan tre psykologiska faktorer och prestation på konjunktionsuppgifter efter att ha läst en sådan ledtråd. Faktorerna motsvarade förståelsen för sannolikhet och statistik (statistisk räknefärdighet, eng., statistical numeracy), förmågan att motstå intuitiva men felaktiga slutsatser, (kognitiv reflektion, eng., cognitive reflection), samt viljan och lusten till analytiskt tänkande (behov-av-tänkande, eng., need-for-cognition). Deltagare (n = 50) besvarade 30 korta konjunktionsuppgifter och tre psykologiska mätskalor. En bimodal svarsfördelning motiverade dikotomisering av resultaten. Behov-av-tänkande var signifikant, positivt korrelerat med prestation, vilket varken räknefärdighet eller kognitiv reflektion var. Resultaten tyder på att viljan och lusten till analytiskt tänkande spelar en viktig roll i förmågan att undvika konjunktionsfelslutet efter att ha fått en ledtråd. Ledtråden verkar också neutralisera skillnader i prestation som annars uppstår på grund av räknefärdighet och kognitiv reflektion. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , 28 p.
Keyword [en]
Conjunction fallacy, nested-sets, need-for-cognition, NFC, numeracy, cognitive reflection, individual differences, debiasing.
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-136847OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-136847DiVA: diva2:1114219
Educational program
Master's Programme in Cognitive Science
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-06-28 Created: 2017-06-22 Last updated: 2017-06-28Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
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