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Base Rates from a Brunswikian Perspective

Phil Dunwoody
Athens, GA

I have just successfully defended my dissertation and am including the abstract below.

For my dissertation I, with the help of Adam Goodie and Robert Mahan, examined the phenomenon of base rate neglect from a Brunswikian perspective. That is, I examined base rate information usage as a function of its ecological validities.

In this study, we tried to borrow from both the heuristics and biases approach as well as the Brunswikian approach. The marriage proved successful, and we will be submitting this paper for publication shortly.

Below is the title and abstract.

"The use of base rate information as a function of experienced consistency and utility" by Philip Dunwoody, Adam Goodie, Robert Mahan.

The use of base rate information has been widely studied in decision making with the conclusion that people underweight or ignore base rate information when compared to a normative standard. This work extends the current body of research by demonstrating that base rate usage is moderated by the statistical characteristics of the base rate information. Two studies demonstrated that experienced base rate consistency and utility both affect base rate usage. Experiment 1 showed that participants use base rate information more when it is consistent than when it is inconsistent. Experiment 2 showed that when base rate consistency and utility are manipulated separately, participant decisions are mostly influenced by the utility of the base rates, and not the consistency. These studies demonstrate that base rate usage can be an adaptive response to environmental contingencies.

Contact Phil Dunwoody

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