UQx PSYC1030.1x 1-3-1 Social judgements and heuristics


The early work in social cognition compared
the social judgements made by people to the judgements that you would expect from a rational
model of inference. So, a rational model of inference would predict
that we systematically combine the information that we have access to when arriving at a
social judgement. It’s perhaps not so surprising that making
this comparison shows us that people make a lot of errors and have biases when they
make their social judgements. In particular, there is evidence that we use
a range of mental shortcuts that are less time-consuming strategies to get a quick solution
to a problem. These shortcuts are called heuristics (Kahneman
& Tversky), and they are generally functional. We don’t always have the time or motivation
to think every judgement through in full. Sometimes however, the quick solution suggested
by the shortcut is inaccurate because the general rule doesn’t does not apply to every
specific judgement. The first heuristic that we are going to talk
about is called the availability heuristic. This is when people judge an event’s frequency
by the ease with which they can bring examples of the event to mind. So, let’s try some examples to illustrate
how this heuristic works. In this activity, I’m going to ask you to
think about a few different questions and then decide what is most likely to happen. You will be able to record your responses
in the activity that follows this video. The first question is: Is it more likely that
a word in the English language starts with the letter R, such as “Rabbit”, or has
R in the third position, such as “March”? To help you answer this question, try to think
of some examples of words with R in the first position and some examples of words with R
in the third position. The second question is: Which is more likely
to kill someone? A smoking related illness, or a car-related
accident? When answering this question, don’t think
about whether you smoke or not or drive or not, but rather what is the risk posed by
each of these to the population as a whole. Next, what animal kills the most people per
year in the world? Check the options in the activity and select
one of those animals. Finally, what causes the largest number of
deaths per year in the Australia? Is it shark attacks? Floods? Cyclones? Ocean rips? Or bush fires? Ok, make sure you record your answers in the
activity that follows.

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