A diverse set of biases that have been found to characterize judgment may be similarly mediated by a process of selective hypothesis testing. Our paper begins with a definition of selective hypothesis testing and an explanation of how and when this process leads to error. We then review a diverse and often disconnected set of findings in the person perception, judgment, cognition, attitudes, attribution, and rule discovery literatures that can be explained by this process. Finally, we examine the question of why the selective testing of hypotheses occurs. Although the psychological literature suggests that selective hypothesis testing contributes to a variety of errors, in many contexts it may be a useful and efficient strategy that leads to satisfactory judgment.
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The authors thank Reid Hastie, Bill von Hippel, and two anonymous reviewers for making a number of excellent suggestions and asking a lot of hard questions. F.R.K. is in the Department of Marketing at Cincinnati. S.P.M. is in the Department of Marketing at Toledo. S.S.P. is now in the Department of Marketing in the Simon Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester.
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Sanbonmatsu, D.M., Posavac, S.S., Kardes, F.R. et al. Selective hypothesis testing. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 5, 197–220 (1998). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03212944