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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

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Polonioli, 2012. "Gigerenzer’s ‘external validity argument’ against the heuristics and biases program: an assessment," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 11(2), pages 133-148, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minsoc:v:11:y:2012:i:2:p:133-148
    DOI: 10.1007/s11299-012-0098-9
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11299-012-0098-9
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    2. Levitt, Steven D. & List, John A., 2009. "Field experiments in economics: The past, the present, and the future," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-18, January.
    3. Binmore, Ken, 1999. "Why Experiment in Economics?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(453), pages 16-24, February.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. repec:feb:artefa:0087 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:feb:artefa:0091 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. John List, 2008. "Homo experimentalis evolves," Artefactual Field Experiments 00084, The Field Experiments Website.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yuichi Amitani, 2015. "The natural frequency hypothesis and evolutionary arguments," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 14(1), pages 1-19, June.

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