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Psychol Rev. 2011 Apr;118(2):379-92. doi: 10.1037/a0023010.

Rational learning and information sampling: on the "naivety" assumption in sampling explanations of judgment biases.

Author information

1
Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain. gael.le-mens@upf.edu

Abstract

Recent research has argued that several well-known judgment biases may be due to biases in the available information sample rather than to biased information processing. Most of these sample-based explanations assume that decision makers are "naive": They are not aware of the biases in the available information sample and do not correct for them. Here, we show that this "naivety" assumption is not necessary. Systematically biased judgments can emerge even when decision makers process available information perfectly and are also aware of how the information sample has been generated. Specifically, we develop a rational analysis of Denrell's (2005) experience sampling model, and we prove that when information search is interested rather than disinterested, even rational information sampling and processing can give rise to systematic patterns of errors in judgments. Our results illustrate that a tendency to favor alternatives for which outcome information is more accessible can be consistent with rational behavior. The model offers a rational explanation for behaviors that had previously been attributed to cognitive and motivational biases, such as the in-group bias or the tendency to prefer popular alternatives.

PMID:
21480741
DOI:
10.1037/a0023010
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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