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Open Access research with a European policy impact...

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EPRC is a leading institute in Europe for comparative research on public policy, with a particular focus on regional development policies. Spanning 30 European countries, EPRC research programmes have a strong emphasis on applied research and knowledge exchange, including the provision of policy advice to EU institutions and national and sub-national government authorities throughout Europe.

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Social cognition and the so-called conjunction fallacy

Davies, John B. and Anderson, A. and Little, Dawn (2011) Social cognition and the so-called conjunction fallacy. Current Psychology, 30 (3). pp. 245-257. ISSN 1046-1310

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Abstract

The so-called 'conjunction effect', in which participants incorrectly assert that an instance from the conjunction of two sets is more probable than an instance from one of the two conjoining sets alone, has been a source of debate as to whether it is a genuine fallacy of individual thinking or not. We argue that reasoning about individuals follows a different process than reasoning about sets. 35 participants took part in 3 tasks: a) one involving blocks of different sizes and colours designed to evoke set-based reasoning, b) one where a particular block was 'individuated' by stating that it represented a particular person, and c) the original Tversky and Kahneman (1988) 'Linda' problem. As predicted, set-based reasoning was significantly more prevalent for the blocks task than for the other two tasks. Participants' reasons for their choices suggest that some individuals correctly use set-based logic in one task and a much more social reasoning process for the other tasks.