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The anchoring bias reflects rational use of cognitive resources


Lieder, Falk; Griffiths, Thomas L; Huys, Quentin J M; Goodman, Noah D (2018). The anchoring bias reflects rational use of cognitive resources. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25(1):322-349.

Abstract

Cognitive biases, such as the anchoring bias, pose a serious challenge to rational accounts of human cognition. We investigate whether rational theories can meet this challenge by taking into account the mind's bounded cognitive resources. We asked what reasoning under uncertainty would look like if people made rational use of their finite time and limited cognitive resources. To answer this question, we applied a mathematical theory of bounded rationality to the problem of numerical estimation. Our analysis led to a rational process model that can be interpreted in terms of anchoring-and-adjustment. This model provided a unifying explanation for ten anchoring phenomena including the differential effect of accuracy motivation on the bias towards provided versus self-generated anchors. Our results illustrate the potential of resource-rational analysis to provide formal theories that can unify a wide range of empirical results and reconcile the impressive capacities of the human mind with its apparently irrational cognitive biases.

Abstract

Cognitive biases, such as the anchoring bias, pose a serious challenge to rational accounts of human cognition. We investigate whether rational theories can meet this challenge by taking into account the mind's bounded cognitive resources. We asked what reasoning under uncertainty would look like if people made rational use of their finite time and limited cognitive resources. To answer this question, we applied a mathematical theory of bounded rationality to the problem of numerical estimation. Our analysis led to a rational process model that can be interpreted in terms of anchoring-and-adjustment. This model provided a unifying explanation for ten anchoring phenomena including the differential effect of accuracy motivation on the bias towards provided versus self-generated anchors. Our results illustrate the potential of resource-rational analysis to provide formal theories that can unify a wide range of empirical results and reconcile the impressive capacities of the human mind with its apparently irrational cognitive biases.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Engineering
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:20 Jun 2017 06:40
Last Modified:22 Mar 2018 02:00
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1069-9384
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-017-1286-8
PubMed ID:28484952

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