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A Note on ‘Neglect Defaulting’

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  • Howard Margolis
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    Abstract

    I introduce the notion of "neglect defaulting", which labels the propensity to neglect possibilities which are ordinarily sensibly neglected. In familiar contexts we are well-tuned to recognize when to override the default. But outside the range of familiar experience – here in the artificial context of puzzles – these ordinarily benign defaults can make it difficult for even sophisticated subjects, such as readers of this note, to avoid responses which on reflection will be seen as obviously mistaken. A detail of particular importance is that although subjects are easily prompted to take one step in the direction of reaching a sound response, the tendency to then neglect to consider that another step may be needed is remarkably strong. In each of the five examples the needed but usually neglected second step is quite trivial. Concluding remarks point to consequences for larger questions in politics and other contexts out of scale with everyday experience.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago in its series Working Papers with number 0722.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0722

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    Keywords: decision making; judgment;

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