Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rationalization of our choices - statistics rather than psychology?

Tierny has done it again - a really really kewl article on what appears to be an error in some classical psychological experiments on cognitive dissonance and rationalization. He provides online exercises you can do. Those early experiments suggested choice rationalization: Once we reject something, we tell ourselves we never liked it anyway (and thereby spare ourselves the painfully dissonant thought that we made the wrong choice). It turns out that in the free-choice paradigm used to test our tendency to rationalize decisions, any bias or slight preference for one of the initial choices can lead to results on subsequent choices that are explained by simple statistics rather than a psychological explanation. The article is worth a careful read...

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