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Prior Divergence: Do Researchers and Participants Share the Same Prior Probability Distributions?

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  • Christina Fang
  • Sari Carp
  • Zur Shapira
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    Abstract

    Do participants bring their own priors to an experiment? If so, do they share the same priors as the researchers who design the experiment? In this article, we examine the extent to which self-generated priors conform to experimenters’ expectations by explicitly asking participants to indicate their own priors in estimating the probability of a variety of events. We find in Study 1 that despite being instructed to follow a uniform distribution, participants appear to have used their own priors, which deviated from the given instructions. Using subjects’ own priors allows us to account better for their responses rather than merely to test the accuracy of their estimates. Implications for the study of judgment and decision making are discussed.

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    File URL: http://ratio.huji.ac.il/sites/default/files/publications/dp587.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem in its series Discussion Paper Series with number dp587.

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    Length: 19 pages
    Date of creation: Aug 2011
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: Published in Cognitive Science 35 (2011) 744–762
    Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp587

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    1. Reinhard Selten & Klaus Abbink & Ricarda Cox, 2005. "Learning Direction Theory and the Winner’s Curse," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 5-20, April.
    2. Ball, Sheryl B. & Bazerman, Max H. & Carroll, John S., 1991. "An evaluation of learning in the bilateral winner's curse," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 1-22, February.
    3. Brit Grosskopf & Yoella Bereby-Meyer & Max Bazerman, 2007. "On the Robustness of the Winner’s Curse Phenomenon," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 63(4), pages 389-418, December.
    4. Teck-Hua Ho & Keith Weigelt, 1996. "Task Complexity, Equilibrium Selection, and Learning: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(5), pages 659-679, May.
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