Friday, December 29, 2017

When intuition overrides reason.

Gilbert Chin points to work by Walco and Risen showing that a third to a half of us will elect to rely on gut feelings even after having demonstrated an accurate understanding of which choice is more likely to pay off. This suggests that error detection and correction are not coupled (as in Kahneman' dual process model, with system 1's intuitive default decision subject to system 2's determination of accuracy), but rather that detection and correction are not coupled. The abstract:
Will people follow their intuition even when they explicitly recognize that it is irrational to do so? Dual-process models of judgment and decision making are often based on the assumption that the correction of errors necessarily follows the detection of errors. But this assumption does not always hold. People can explicitly recognize that their intuitive judgment is wrong but nevertheless maintain it, a phenomenon known as acquiescence. Although anecdotes and experimental studies suggest that acquiescence occurs, the empirical case for acquiescence has not been definitively established. In four studies—using the ratio-bias paradigm, a lottery exchange game, blackjack, and a football coaching decision—we tested acquiescence using recently established criteria. We provide clear empirical support for acquiescence: People can have a faulty intuitive belief about the world (Criterion 1), acknowledge the belief is irrational (Criterion 2), but follow their intuition nonetheless (Criterion 3)—even at a cost.
(Motivated readers can request a PDF of the article with experimental details from me.)


  1. Deric, could you send me a copy?

  2. how does that suggest they aren't coupled? isn't it saying 50-67% of the time people are willing to shift their beliefs, even if they don't want to? (hence them not "going with their gut"). Again, humans should probably have a higher percentage, but it indeed shows up to a 67% correllation.... I am pretty sure that would still be coupled, so is the article using the term improperly or how is that actually not coupled then?

  3. Their work doesn't prove they are uncoupled. It would have been better for my summary to say "error detection and correction are not always coupled."

  4. Ok, i appreciate the response. Sort of thought the not always coupled point is likely what was being implied! Is it valid to think of it as a relatively modest R value in statistics, just one much lower than near 1 which a fully rational person would use? I am a finance guy, not a psychology / sciencetific researcher so just curious if thinking about the coupling in a statistical R value type of way is a good framework to use or not.

    Thanks for any response and have a great new year!