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PS409
   Psychology, Science,
     & Pseudoscience



           Dr Brian Hughes
              School of Psychology

brian.hughes@nuigalway.ie            @b_m_hughes
Evidentiary reasoning:
Why do people believe weird
          things?
Question:
If not on mathematical probability, then
    what do we base our judgments of
             likelihood on?
Life (Survival Rate)
                                                                         75%
              Now       Year 1      Year 2     Year 3      Year 4     Year 5


Surgery        90          68         51          40         35          34


Radiation     100          77         44          28         23          22


   A numerical representation of the choice between surgery and radiation for
     hypothetical sixty-year-olds with lung cancer (from McNeil et al., 1982)
58%                   Death (Mortality Rate)
              Now       Year 1      Year 2     Year 3      Year 4     Year 5


Surgery        10          32         49          60         65          66


Radiation       0          23         56          72         77          78


   A numerical representation of the choice between surgery and radiation for
     hypothetical sixty-year-olds with lung cancer (from McNeil et al., 1982)
Language factors
58% Death (Mortality Rate) & Life (Survival Rate) 75%
              Now       Year 1      Year 2     Year 3      Year 4     Year 5


Surgery        10          32         49          60         65          66
               90          68         51          40         35          34
Radiation      0           23         56          72         77          78
              100          77         44          28         23          22

   A numerical representation of the choice between surgery and radiation for
     hypothetical sixty-year-olds with lung cancer (from McNeil et al., 1982)
Confirmation bias
Imagine I have a pack of cards, each of which has a letter printed
on one side and a number printed on the other. Imagine I show you
these four cards from the pack:




            EK4 7
Question: Which card or cards must you turn over in order to
decide whether or not the following RULE is true? Turn over as few
cards as necessary.

  RULE: If a card has a vowel on one side, then it must
  have an even number on the other.
Confirmation bias
Imagine I have a pack of cards, each of which has a letter printed
on one side and a number printed on the other. Imagine I show you
these four cards from the pack:




            EK4 7
                                                ×
Question: Which card or cards must you turn over in order to
                             75%
decide whether or not the following RULE is true? Turn over as few
cards as necessary.

  RULE: If a card has a vowel on one side, then it must
  have an even number on the other.
Confirmation bias
Imagine I have a pack of cards, each of which has a letter printed
on one side and a number printed on the other. Imagine I show you
these four cards from the pack:




            EK4 7
                         
Question: Which card or cards must you turn over in order to
                                                      10%
decide whether or not the following RULE is true? Turn over as few
cards as necessary.

  RULE: If a card has a vowel on one side, then it must
  have an even number on the other.
Confirmation bias
   Tendency to focus on confirmatory information
      Willingness to base interpretations on partial data
      Tendency to fail to consider counter-examples
      Failure to control for base-rates
Heuristics
Linda is a former student activist, very intelligent, single, good with         Conjunction fallacy
numbers, and a philosophy graduate.                                             (Tversky & Kahneman,
                                                                                1983)
Which of the following is most likely:
(a) Linda is a bank teller
(b) Linda is a feminist
(c) Linda is a feminist bank teller
Steve is very shy and withdrawn, invariably helpful, but with little interest   Representativeness
in people…A meek and tidy soul, he has a need for order and structure           heuristic
and a passion for detail.                                                       (Tversky & Kahnemen,
                                                                                1974)
Which of the following is most likely:
(a) Steve is a farmer
(b) Steve is a pilot
(c) Steve is a doctor
(d) Steve is a librarian
If a word of three letters or more, is it more likely that the word starts      Availability heuristic
with “r” or has “r” as its third letter?                                        (Tversky & Kahneman,
                                                                                1974)

What is the probability that you will die next year?                            Support theory
                                                                                (Tversky & Koehler,
What is the probability that you will die on your next summer holiday           1994)
from a disease, a sudden heart attack, an earthquake, terrorist activity, a
civil war, a car accident, a plane crash, or from any other cause?
Heuristics




   Where mental shortcuts systematically undermine our
   judgement of probabilities
       May explain why rare events are seen as common,
       common events seen as rare, etc.
Social factors
Motivation

  The Lake Wobegon effect
  (Gilovich, 1991)
       where “the women are
       strong, the men are good-
       looking, and all the children
       are above average”
  Interpretation of situations
  in self-serving ways
      Personal qualities/fortunes
      Causal attributions
      e.g. athletes, students, lecturers,
      researchers
Motivation




 Common illusions                         Benefits
   Unrealistically positive self-regard     Happiness or contentment
   Illusions of control                     Ability to care for others
   Unrealistic optimism                     Capacity for creativity/productivity
PS409
   Psychology, Science,
     & Pseudoscience



           Dr Brian Hughes
              School of Psychology

brian.hughes@nuigalway.ie            @b_m_hughes

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Psychology, Science, and Pseudoscience: Class #07 (Cognitive Limits)

  • 1. PS409 Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience Dr Brian Hughes School of Psychology brian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes
  • 2. Evidentiary reasoning: Why do people believe weird things?
  • 3. Question: If not on mathematical probability, then what do we base our judgments of likelihood on?
  • 4. Life (Survival Rate) 75% Now Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Surgery 90 68 51 40 35 34 Radiation 100 77 44 28 23 22 A numerical representation of the choice between surgery and radiation for hypothetical sixty-year-olds with lung cancer (from McNeil et al., 1982)
  • 5. 58% Death (Mortality Rate) Now Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Surgery 10 32 49 60 65 66 Radiation 0 23 56 72 77 78 A numerical representation of the choice between surgery and radiation for hypothetical sixty-year-olds with lung cancer (from McNeil et al., 1982)
  • 6. Language factors 58% Death (Mortality Rate) & Life (Survival Rate) 75% Now Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Surgery 10 32 49 60 65 66 90 68 51 40 35 34 Radiation 0 23 56 72 77 78 100 77 44 28 23 22 A numerical representation of the choice between surgery and radiation for hypothetical sixty-year-olds with lung cancer (from McNeil et al., 1982)
  • 7. Confirmation bias Imagine I have a pack of cards, each of which has a letter printed on one side and a number printed on the other. Imagine I show you these four cards from the pack: EK4 7 Question: Which card or cards must you turn over in order to decide whether or not the following RULE is true? Turn over as few cards as necessary. RULE: If a card has a vowel on one side, then it must have an even number on the other.
  • 8. Confirmation bias Imagine I have a pack of cards, each of which has a letter printed on one side and a number printed on the other. Imagine I show you these four cards from the pack: EK4 7 × Question: Which card or cards must you turn over in order to 75% decide whether or not the following RULE is true? Turn over as few cards as necessary. RULE: If a card has a vowel on one side, then it must have an even number on the other.
  • 9. Confirmation bias Imagine I have a pack of cards, each of which has a letter printed on one side and a number printed on the other. Imagine I show you these four cards from the pack: EK4 7  Question: Which card or cards must you turn over in order to 10% decide whether or not the following RULE is true? Turn over as few cards as necessary. RULE: If a card has a vowel on one side, then it must have an even number on the other.
  • 10. Confirmation bias Tendency to focus on confirmatory information Willingness to base interpretations on partial data Tendency to fail to consider counter-examples Failure to control for base-rates
  • 11. Heuristics Linda is a former student activist, very intelligent, single, good with Conjunction fallacy numbers, and a philosophy graduate. (Tversky & Kahneman, 1983) Which of the following is most likely: (a) Linda is a bank teller (b) Linda is a feminist (c) Linda is a feminist bank teller Steve is very shy and withdrawn, invariably helpful, but with little interest Representativeness in people…A meek and tidy soul, he has a need for order and structure heuristic and a passion for detail. (Tversky & Kahnemen, 1974) Which of the following is most likely: (a) Steve is a farmer (b) Steve is a pilot (c) Steve is a doctor (d) Steve is a librarian If a word of three letters or more, is it more likely that the word starts Availability heuristic with “r” or has “r” as its third letter? (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974) What is the probability that you will die next year? Support theory (Tversky & Koehler, What is the probability that you will die on your next summer holiday 1994) from a disease, a sudden heart attack, an earthquake, terrorist activity, a civil war, a car accident, a plane crash, or from any other cause?
  • 12. Heuristics Where mental shortcuts systematically undermine our judgement of probabilities May explain why rare events are seen as common, common events seen as rare, etc.
  • 14. Motivation The Lake Wobegon effect (Gilovich, 1991) where “the women are strong, the men are good- looking, and all the children are above average” Interpretation of situations in self-serving ways Personal qualities/fortunes Causal attributions e.g. athletes, students, lecturers, researchers
  • 15. Motivation Common illusions Benefits Unrealistically positive self-regard Happiness or contentment Illusions of control Ability to care for others Unrealistic optimism Capacity for creativity/productivity
  • 16. PS409 Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience Dr Brian Hughes School of Psychology brian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes