Rationality in the selection task: Epistemic utility versus uncertainty reduction

Psychological Review 103 (2):356-363 (1996)
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M. Oaksford and N. Chater presented a Bayesian analysis of the Wason selection task in which they proposed that people choose cards in order to maximize expected information gain as measured by reduction in uncertainty in the Shannon-Weaver information theory sense. It is argued that the EIG measure is both psychologically implausible and normatively inadequate as a measure of epistemic utility. The article is also concerned with the descriptive account of findings in the selection task literature offered by Oaksford and Chater. First, it is shown that their analysis data reported in the recent article of K. N. Kirby is unsound; second, an EIG analysis is presented of the experiments of P. Pollard and J. St. B. T. Evans that provides a strong empirical disconfirmation of the theory



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