Inflation of Conditional Predictions

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Abstract

The authors report 7 experiments indicating that conditional predictions—the assessed probability that a certain outcome will occur given a certain condition—tend to be markedly inflated. The results suggest that this inflation derives in part from backward activation in which the target outcome highlights aspects of the condition that are consistent with that outcome, thus supporting the plausibility of that outcome. One consequence of this process is that alternative outcomes are not conceived to compete as fully as they should. Another consequence is that prediction inflation is resistant to manipulations that induce participants to consider alternative outcomes to the target outcome.

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