Bias in Human Reasoning: Causes and Consequences

Psychology Press (1990)
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This book represents the first major attempt by any author to provide an integrated account of the evidence for bias in human reasoning across a wide range of disparate psychological literatures. The topics discussed involve both deductive and inductive reasoning as well as statistical judgement and inference. In addition, the author proposes a general theoretical approach to the explanations of bias and considers the practical implications for real world decision making. The theoretical stance of the book is based on a distinction between preconscious heuristic processes which determine the mental representation of 'relevant' features of the problem content, and subsequent analytic reasoning processes which generate inferences and judgements. Phenomena discussed and interpreted within this framework include feature matching biases in propositional reasoning, confirmation bias, biasing and debiasing effects of knowledge on reasoning, and biases in statistical judgement normally attributed to 'availability' and 'representativeness' heuristics. In the final chapter, the practical consequences of bias for real life decision making are considered, together with various issues concerning the problem of 'debiasing'. The major approaches discussed are those involving education and training on the one hand, and the development of intelligent software and interactive decision aids on the other.



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