Rational Learning and Information Sampling: On the ‘Naivety’ Assumption in Sampling Explanations of Judgment Biases

Le Mens, Gaël and Denrell, Jerker (2011) Rational Learning and Information Sampling: On the ‘Naivety’ Assumption in Sampling Explanations of Judgment Biases. Psychological Review, 118 (2). pp. 379-392.

Abstract

Recent research has argued that several well-known judgment biases may be due to biases in the available information sample rather than to biased information processing. Most of these sample-based explanations assume that decision makers are “naive”: They are not aware of the biases in the available information sample and do not correct for them. Here, we show that this “naivety” assumption is not necessary. Systematically biased judgments can emerge even when decision makers process available information perfectly and are also aware of how the information sample has been generated. Specifically, we develop a rational analysis of Denrell's (2005) experience sampling model, and we prove that when information search is interested rather than disinterested, even rational information sampling and processing can give rise to systematic patterns of errors in judgments. Our results illustrate that a tendency to favor alternatives for which outcome information is more accessible can be consistent with rational behavior. The model offers a rational explanation for behaviors that had previously been attributed to cognitive and motivational biases, such as the in-group bias or the tendency to prefer popular alternatives.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: learning, sampling, judgment biases, rational analysis
Subject(s): Strategy; Entrepreneurship & Global business
Centre: Faculty of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and International Business
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2011 08:57
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:05
URI: http://eureka.sbs.ox.ac.uk/id/eprint/981

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