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Gigerenzer’s ‘external validity argument’ against the heuristics and biases program: an assessment

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  • Andrea Polonioli

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    Abstract

    Gigerenzer’s ‘external validity argument’ plays a pivotal role in his critique of the heuristics and biases research program (HB). The basic idea is that (a) the experimental contexts deployed by HB are not representative of the real environment and that (b) the differences between the setting and the real environment are causally relevant, because they result in different performances by the subjects. However, by considering Gigerenzer’s work on frequencies in probability judgments, this essay attempts to show that there are fatal flaws in the argument. Specifically, each of the claims is controversial: whereas (b) is not adequately empirically justified, (a) is inconsistent with the ‘debiasing’ program of Gigerenzer’s ABC group. Therefore, whatever reason we might have for believing that the experimental findings of HB lack experimental validity, this should not be based on Gigerenzer’s version of the argument. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2012

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Fondazione Rosselli in its journal Mind & Society.

    Volume (Year): 11 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 (December)
    Pages: 133-148

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:minsoc:v:11:y:2012:i:2:p:133-148

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    Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/11299
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    Keywords: Heuristics and biases; Judgemental biases; External validity; Probabilistic thinking; Frequentistic thinking; Debiasing; Field experiments;

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    1. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Jones, Steven K. & Taylor Jones, Kristine & Frisch, Deborah, 1995. "Biases of Probability Assessment: A Comparison of Frequency and Single-Case Judgments," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 109-122, February.
    3. Binmore, Ken, 1999. "Why Experiment in Economics?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(453), pages F16-24, February.
    4. repec:feb:artefa:0091 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Nilsson, Håkan & Andersson, Patric, 2010. "Making the seemingly impossible appear possible: Effects of conjunction fallacies in evaluations of bets on football games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 172-180, April.
    6. John List, 2008. "Homo experimentalis evolves," Artefactual Field Experiments 00084, The Field Experiments Website.
    7. repec:feb:artefa:0087 is not listed on IDEAS
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