On the determinants of the conjunction fallacy

Tentori K., Crupi V., and Russo S., On the determinants of the conjunction fallacy: Probability vs. inductive confirmation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142 (2013): 235-255.


Abstract: Major recent interpretations of the conjunction fallacy postulate that people assess the probability of a conjunction according to (non-normative) averaging rules as applied to the constituents’ probabilities or represent the conjunction fallacy as an effect of random error in the judgment process. In the present contribution, we contrast such accounts with a different reading of the phenomenon based on the notion of inductive confirmation as defined by contemporary Bayesian theorists. Averaging rule hypotheses along with the random error model and many other existing proposals are shown to all imply that conjunction fallacy rates would rise as the perceived probability of the added conjunct does. By contrast, our account predicts that the conjunction fallacy depends on the added conjunct being perceived as inductively confirmed. Four studies are reported in which the judged probability versus confirmation of the added conjunct have been systematically manipulated and dissociated. The results consistently favor a confirmation–theoretic account of the conjunction fallacy against competing views. Our proposal is also discussed in connection with related issues in the study of human inductive reasoning.



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