Variance and accuracy in probability estimation from samples : the case of cognitive biases

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Title: Variance and accuracy in probability estimation from samples : the case of cognitive biases
Authors: Howe, Rita
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Date: 2020
Online since: 2020-11-04T05:34:40Z
Abstract: A number of recent theories have suggested that the various systematic biases and fallacies seen in people's probabilistic reasoning may arise purely as a consequence of random variation in the reasoning process. The underlying argument, in these theories, is that random variation has systematic regressive effects, so producing the observed patterns of bias. These theories typically take this random variation as a given, and assume that the degree of random variation in probabilistic reasoning is sufficiently large to account for observed patterns of fallacy and bias; there has been very little research directly examining the character of random variation in people's probabilistic judgement. In this thesis, 4 experiments are described that investigate the degree, level, and characteristic properties of random variation in people's probability judgement. They show that the degree of variance is easily large enough to account for the occurrence of two central fallacies in probabilistic reasoning (the conjunction fallacy and the disjunction fallacy), and that level of variance is a reliable predictor of the occurrence of these fallacies. In addition, it is demonstrated that random variance in people's probabilistic judgement follows a particular mathematical model from frequentist probability theory: the binomial proportion distribution. This result supports a model in which people reason about probabilities in a way that follows frequentist probability theory but is subject to random variation or noise.
Type of material: Doctoral Thesis
Publisher: University College Dublin. School of Computer Science
Qualification Name: Ph.D.
Copyright (published version): 2020 the Author
Keywords: Probability estimationVarianceCognitive bias
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Computer Science Theses

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