Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Sunstein Cass R. & Sibony Olivier & Kahneman Daniel

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Sunstein Cass R. & Sibony Olivier & Kahneman Daniel

Author:Sunstein, Cass R. & Sibony, Olivier & Kahneman, Daniel [Sunstein, Cass R.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Published: 2021-05-18T05:00:00+00:00

Cognitive Style

Regardless of mental ability, people differ in their cognitive style, or their approach to judgment tasks. Many instruments have been developed to capture cognitive styles. Most of these measures correlate with GMA (and with one another), but they measure different things.

One such measure is the cognitive reflection test (CRT), made famous by the now-ubiquitous question about the ball and the bat: “A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?” Other questions that have been proposed to measure cognitive reflection include this one: “If you’re running a race and you pass the person in second place, what place are you in?” CRT questions attempt to measure how likely people are to override the first (and wrong) answer that comes to mind (“ten cents” for the ball-and-bat question, and “first” for the race example). Lower CRT scores are associated with many real-world judgments and beliefs, including belief in ghosts, astrology, and extrasensory perception. The scores predict whether people will fall for blatantly inaccurate “fake news.” They are even associated with how much people will use their smartphones.

The CRT is seen by many as one instrument to measure a broader concept: the propensity to use reflective versus impulsive thought processes. Simply put, some people like to engage in careful thought, whereas others, faced with the same problem, tend to trust their first impulses. In our terminology, the CRT can be seen as a measure of people’s propensity to rely on slow, System 2 thinking rather than on fast, System 1 thinking.

Other self-assessments have been developed to measure this propensity (and all these tests are, of course, intercorrelated). The need-for-cognition scale, for instance, asks people how much they like to think hard about problems. To score high on the scale, you would have to agree that “I tend to set goals that can be accomplished only by expending considerable mental effort” and disagree with “Thinking is not my idea of fun.” People with a high need for cognition tend to be less susceptible to known cognitive biases. Some more bizarre associations have been reported, too: if you avoid movie reviews with a spoiler alert, you probably have a high need for cognition; those who are low on the need-for-cognition scale prefer spoiled stories.

Because that scale is a self-assessment and because the socially desirable answer is fairly obvious, the scale raises fair questions. Someone who is trying to impress is hardly likely to endorse the statement “Thinking is not my idea of fun.” For that reason, other tests try to measure skills instead of using self-descriptions.

One example is the Adult Decision Making Competence scale, which measures how prone people are to make typical errors in judgment like overconfidence or inconsistency in risk perceptions. Another is the Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment, which focuses on critical thinking skills, including both a disposition toward rational thinking and a set of learnable skills. Taking this assessment, you would be asked questions like this: “Imagine that a friend asks you for advice about which of two weight-loss programs to choose.


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