Probabilistic Mental Models
The cognitive bias research claims that people are naturally prone to making mistakes in reasoning and memory, including the mistake of over-estimating their knowledge. This chapter proposes a new theoretical model for confidence in knowledge based on the more charitable assumption that people are good judges of the reliability of their knowledge, provided that the knowledge is representatively sampled from a specified reference class. It claims that this model both predicts new experimental results and explains a wide range of extant experimental findings on confidence, including some perplexing inconsistencies. It consists of three parts: an exposition of the proposed theory of probabilistic mental models (PMM theory); a report of experimental tests confirming these predictions; and an explanation of apparent anomalies in previous experimental results by means of PMMs.
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