The dependence of the conjunction fallacy on subtle linguistic factors
- 753 Downloads
The three experiments reported in this article are concerned with moderating conditions of the so-called conjunction fallacy. Although the conjunction of two events (A&B) is necessarily less probable than one event alone, intelligent people's judgments sometimes violate this logical principle when it is easier to think about or imagine the conjunction A&B than the component event A. It was hypothesized that the fallacy might be reduced either by a priming treatment (directing the participants' attention to the logical rule prior to the conjunctions tasks) or by a linguistic manipulation (replacing the ambiguous term “probability” by the term “frequency”. Experiment 1 shows that the bias is drastically reduced by the subtle linguistic manipulation and suggests that the fallacy is partly due to a common misunderstanding of the probability concept. The lack of a priming effect seems to imply that cueing or activation of logical schemata is not a critical factor. Experiment 2 replicates the linguistic influence under slightly modified task conditions, and Experiment 3 corroborates the ineffectiveness of the priming factor using a stronger priming treatment.
KeywordsPriming Effect Priming Treatment Priming Factor Task Condition Logical Rule
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Crocker, J. (1982). Biased questions in judgement covariation of studies. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 8, 214–220.Google Scholar
- Fiedler, K., & Stroehm, W. (1986). The use of statistical, spatialtemporal, and intensional information in judgments of contingency. European Journal of Social Psychology, 16, 385–398.Google Scholar
- Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1972). Subjective probability: A judgement of representativeness. Cognitive Psychology, 3, 430–454.Google Scholar
- Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1982). The simulation heuristic. In D. Kahneman, P. Slovic, & A. Tversky (Eds.) Judgement under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Morier, D. M., & Borgida, E. (1984). The conjunction fallacy: A task specific phenomenon? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 10, 243–252.Google Scholar
- Thüring, M., & Jungerman, H. (1987). Whatever may cause conjunction fallacies: Probably not causality. Paper presented at the 11th Research Conference on Subjective Probability, Utility, and Decision Making, Cambridge, England.Google Scholar
- Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1983). Extensional versus intuitive reasoning: The conjunction fallacy in probability judgement. Psychological Review, 90, 293–315.Google Scholar
- Yates, J. F., & Carlson, B. W. (1986). Conjunction errors: Evidence for multiple judgement procedures, including “signed summation”. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 37, 230–253.Google Scholar