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Science. 2018 Jun 29;360(6396):1465-1467. doi: 10.1126/science.aap8731.

Prevalence-induced concept change in human judgment.

Author information

1
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.
2
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA. gilbert@wjh.harvard.edu.
3
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA.
4
Dartmouth University, Hanover, NH, USA.
5
New York University, New York, NY, USA.

Abstract

Why do some social problems seem so intractable? In a series of experiments, we show that people often respond to decreases in the prevalence of a stimulus by expanding their concept of it. When blue dots became rare, participants began to see purple dots as blue; when threatening faces became rare, participants began to see neutral faces as threatening; and when unethical requests became rare, participants began to see innocuous requests as unethical. This "prevalence-induced concept change" occurred even when participants were forewarned about it and even when they were instructed and paid to resist it. Social problems may seem intractable in part because reductions in their prevalence lead people to see more of them.

Comment in

PMID:
29954981
DOI:
10.1126/science.aap8731
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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