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Durham University

Psychology

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Publication details for Professor David Over

Evans, JST, Handley, SJ, Over, DE & Perham, N (2002). Background beliefs in Bayesian inference. Memory & Cognition 30(2): 179-190.
  • Publication type: Journal Article
  • ISSN/ISBN: 0090-502X
  • Keywords: BASE-RATE INFORMATION; RATE FALLACY; PROBABILITY; FREQUENCY; JUDGMENT;UNCERTAINTY; STEREOTYPES; FORMATS

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

We report five experiments in which the role of background beliefs in
social judgments of posterior probability was investigated. From a
Bayesian perspective, people should combine prior probabilities (or
base rates) and diagnostic evidence with equal weighting, although
previous research shows that base rates are often underweighted. These
experiments were designed so that either piece of information was
supplied either by personal beliefs or by presented statistics, and
regression analyses were performed on individual participants to assess
the relative influence of information. We found that both prior
probabilities and diagnostic information significantly influenced
judgments, whether supplied by beliefs or by statistical information,
but that belief-based information tended to dominate the judgments made.

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