Biased but in Doubt: Conflict and Decision ConfidenceReport as inadecuate

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Human reasoning is often biased by intuitive heuristics. A central question is whether the bias results from a failure to detect that the intuitions conflict with traditional normative considerations or from a failure to discard the tempting intuitions. The present study addressed this unresolved debate by using people-s decision confidence as a nonverbal index of conflict detection. Participants were asked to indicate how confident they were after solving classic base-rate Experiment 1 and conjunction fallacy Experiment 2 problems in which a cued intuitive response could be inconsistent or consistent with the traditional correct response. Results indicated that reasoners showed a clear confidence decrease when they gave an intuitive response that conflicted with the normative response. Contrary to popular belief, this establishes that people seem to acknowledge that their intuitive answers are not fully warranted. Experiment 3 established that younger reasoners did not yet show the confidence decrease, which points to the role of improved bias awareness in our reasoning development. Implications for the long standing debate on human rationality are discussed.

Author: Wim De Neys, Sofie Cromheeke, Magda Osman



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