Intuitive Confidence: Choosing Between Intuitive and Nonintuitive Alternatives

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Abstract

People often choose intuitive rather than equally valid nonintuitive alternatives. The authors suggest that these intuitive biases arise because intuitions often spring to mind with subjective ease, and the subjective ease leads people to hold their intuitions with high confidence. An investigation of predictions against point spreads found that people predicted intuitive options (favorites) more often than equally valid (or even more valid) nonintuitive alternatives (underdogs). Critically, though, this effect was largely determined by people's confidence in their intuitions (intuitive confidence). Across naturalistic, expert, and laboratory samples (Studies 1–3), against personally determined point spreads (Studies 4–11), and even when intuitive confidence was manipulated by altering irrelevant aspects of the decision context (e.g., font; Studies 12 and 13), the authors found that decreasing intuitive confidence reduced or eliminated intuitive biases. These findings indicate that intuitive biases are not inevitable but rather predictably determined by contextual variables that affect intuitive confidence.

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