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Heuristics and Biases 3A- Everyday Judgment and Behavior


33. The Hot Hand in Basketball: On the Misprediction of Random Sequences

People, at least when judging streaks in basketball, are bad at knowing what a random sequence would look like. They tend to impart streaks of multiple hits with more meaning than they really deserve. They tend to think that randomly varying sequences of heads and tails are not really random because of the streaks, and that streaks that vary more than chance would demand are more random.  More poor probabilistic thinking.

34. Like Goes With Like: The Role of Representativeness in Erroneous and Pseudo-Scientific Beliefs

Instead of looking at probability judgments like most representativeness research does, this chapter links the heuristic with causal judgments, in particular pseudoscientific ones like homeopathy, traditional medicine (rhino horn cures . . .), and perhaps the resistance to non-representative occurrences, like mosquitos causing malaria (or a mindless process leading to minds?).

In ancient Chinese medicine, for example, people with vision problems were fed ground bat in the (typically) mistaken belief that bats have particularly keen vision and that some of this ability might be transferred to the recipient (Deutsch, 1977). Evans-Pritchard (1937) noted many examples of the influence of representativeness among the African Azande (13891).

35. When Less is More: Counterfactual thinking and Satisfaction among Olympic Medalists

Specifically among Olympic medalists, and probably among everyone else, those who are objectively better off may be subjectively less happy/satisfied. Silver medalists compare themselves to the Gold (soooo close!), and bronze medalists compare themselves to squat diddly (phew! barely made it), so the bronze are happier. It took three studies to confidently triangulate such a conclusion.

36. Understanding Misunderstandings: Social Psychological Perspectives

This chapter applies the many heuristics and biases outlined in this book to human social interactions. The fundamental attribution error looms large here. So does the above average effect. People feel that they learn more from interactions with others than others learn about them, that they are less biased than average (even when the above average affect in this area is explained). Every time I heard that I cringed, seeing as how I continue to feel above average. But wouldn’t pretty much anyone reading this book be better than average in reducing bias?

The present thesis is that blindness about the role that such biases play in shaping our own political views, and a penchant for seeing self-serving or ideologically determined biases in other’s views, exacerbates group conflict (14296).

We argue that people readily recognize biases in others that they do not recognize in themselves, and as a result, they make overly negative attributions about others whose views and self-interested motives seem “conveniently” congruent (14314).

Assumptions about top-down processing may also lead partisans to overestimate the ideological consistency and extremity of those on their own side of the conflict. The result is an overestimation of the relevant construal gap between the modal views of the two sides and an underestimation of the amount of common ground that could serve as a basis for conciliation and constructive action (14593).

Partisans in the express-own-position condition in these studies showed the expected false polarization effect, markedly overestimating the gap between the positions of the two sides. By contrast, participants in the express-other-position condition (and, in one study, those in a third condition in which they expressed both positions) hardly overestimated this gap at all (14636).

Implicit in our discussion of biases contributing to conflict and misunderstanding is the assumption that people recognize or presume the influence of such biases more readily when they are evaluating other actors’ responses than when they are evaluating their own (14642).

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