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The Conjunction Fallacy: A Phenomenon not caused by the Representativeness Heuristic
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-96783OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-96783DiVA: diva2:171470
Available from: 2008-03-04 Created: 2008-03-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. In Search of Prototypes and Feminist Bank-Tellers: Exploring the Representativeness Heuristic
Open this publication in new window or tab >>In Search of Prototypes and Feminist Bank-Tellers: Exploring the Representativeness Heuristic
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

According to the heuristics and biases approach, the representativeness heuristic (RH) is one of the heuristics available for assessing subjective probabilities (A. Tversky & D. Kahneman, 1974). A subjective probability assessed by the RH is determined by how representative the target object is of the target category. Several aspects of the RH are argued to cause systematic biases, for example: (i) When the RH is used, the category is represented by one single prototypical exemplar. This feature is argued to cause biases such as misperception of chance and insensitivity to sample size. (ii) The RH assesses the inverse rather than the conditional probability. This feature is argued to cause biases such as the conjunction fallacy and base-rate neglect.

The present thesis focuses on the cognitive aspects of the RH. Three studies were conducted. Overall, data indicated that the RH does not play a major role when subjective probabilities are assessed. Study I indicated that subjective probabilities are not typically determined by how representative the target object is of the target category. Study II indicated that the category is not represented by one single prototypical exemplar when subjective probabilities are assessed. Study III indicated that conjunction fallacies are not caused by the RH.

The results presented in Studies I-III cast serious doubts on the claim that subjective probabilities are routinely assessed using the RH. Rather, Studies I-II suggested that subjective probabilities are based on exemplar memory and Study III suggested that the conjunction fallacy is caused by people combining component probabilities in a an inappropriate way. In the General Discussion, it is suggested that people use a weighted average rule when combining component probabilities into conjunction probabilities. A simulation showing the ecological relevance of the weighted average rule is presented.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2008. x, 60 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 37
Keyword
Psychology, Cognitive psychology, Subjective probability, Representativeness heuristic, PROBEX, Category learning, Cognitive modeling, Conjunction fallacy, Psykologi
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-8476 (URN)978-91-554-7102-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-03-26, VIII, universitetshuset, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2008-03-04 Created: 2008-03-04 Last updated: 2011-01-11Bibliographically approved

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