The Influence of Improper Sets of Information on Judgment: How Irrelevant Information Can Bias Judged Probability

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Abstract

This article introduces 2 new sources of bias in probability judgment, discrimination failure and inhibition failure, which are conceptualized as arising from an interaction between error prone memory processes and a support theory like comparison process. Both sources of bias stem from the influence of irrelevant information on participants' probability judgments, but they postulate different mechanisms for how irrelevant information affects judgment. The authors used an adaptation of the proactive interference (PI) and release from PI paradigm to test the effect of irrelevant information on judgment. The results of 2 experiments support the discrimination failure account of the effect of PI on probability judgment. In addition, the authors show that 2 commonly used measures of judgment accuracy, absolute and relative accuracy, can be dissociated. The results have broad implications for theories of judgment.

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