Recognition judgments and the performance of the recognition heuristic depend on the size of the reference class
In a series of three experiments, participants made inferences about which one of a pair of two objects scored higher on a criterion. The first experiment was designed to contrast the prediction of Probabilistic Mental Model theory (Gigerenzer, Hoffrage, & Kleinbolting, 1991) concerning sampling procedure with the hard-easy effect. The experiment failed to support the theory's prediction that a particular pair of randomly sampled item sets would differ in percentage correct; but the observation that German participants performed practically as well on comparisons between U.S. cities (many of which they did not even recognize) than on comparisons between German cities (about which they knew much more) ultimately led to the formulation of the recognition heuristic. Experiment 2 was a second, this time successful, attempt to unconfound item difficulty and sampling procedure. In Experiment 3, participants' knowledge and recognition of each city was elicited, and how often this could be used to make an inference was manipulated. Choices were consistent with the recognition heuristic in about 80% of the cases when it discriminated and people had no additional knowledge about the recognized city (and in about 90% when they had such knowledge). The frequency with which the heuristic could be used affected the percentage correct, mean confidence, and overconfidence as predicted. The size of the reference class, which was also manipulated, modified these effects in meaningful and theoretically important ways.
Volume (Year): 6 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
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