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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1994 May;66(5):819-29.

Conflict between intuitive and rational processing: when people behave against their better judgment.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 01003-7710.


When offered an opportunity to win $1 on every "win" trial in which they drew a red jelly bean, subjects frequently elected to draw from a bowl that contained a greater absolute number, but a smaller proportion, of red beans (e.g., 7 in 100) than from a bowl with fewer red beans but better odds (e.g., 1 in 10). Subjects reported that although they knew the probabilities were against them, they felt they had a better chance when there were more red beans. Similar, but less extreme results were obtained on "lose" trials, where drawing a red bean meant losing $1. These results were predicted from the concretive and experiential principles of cognitive-experiential self-theory. Nonoptimal choices in the laboratory were significantly correlated with heuristic responses to relevant vignettes and with self-reported gambling in real life.

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