Winter 2013
Psychology 209: Topics in Judgment and Decision Making

Prof. Craig McKenzie Hours: By appointment
Email: URL:

Wednesdays, 2-5, Crick Conference Room, Mandler Hall (3rd floor)

Overview: In the late '60s, the consensus regarding judgment under uncertainty was that people, by and large, behave in accord with normative (or rational) statistical models. In the early '70s, Tversky and Kahneman revolutionized thinking about this area by arguing that people rely on a few simple cognitive shortcuts (heuristics) that lead to systematic errors (biases). This new view led research in the area to mesh better with cognitive psychology by focusing on the cognitive processes underlying judgment. Although the heuristics-and-biases paradigm has had a large impact on all social sciences and some applied areas (e.g., business, law, medicine), it has come under constant attack. We'll discuss the paradigm, why it has come under constant attack, recent developments, and alternate perspectives.

Requirements: Thoughtful reading and discussion are required. Participants must do all the reading each week and come to class prepared to discuss it. Grades will be based on class participation. Short papers might also be required (in which case they will also influence grades).

Week 1 (Jan 9): Introduction to heuristics and biases

(Note: No need to pore over the first two readings. Just get a feel for the types of tasks studied, how they are studied, and the conclusions drawn.)

Peterson, C. R., & Beach, L. R. (1967). Man as an intuitive statistician. Psychological Bulletin, 68, 29-46. [pdf]

Edwards, W. (1982). Conservatism in human information processing. In D. Kahneman, P. Slovic, & A. Tversky (Eds.), Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases (pp. 359-369). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts from a chapter in B. Kleinmuntz (Ed.), Formal representation of human judgment (pp. 17-52), 1968. New York: Wiley.) [pdf]

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1972). Subjective probability: A judgment of representativeness. Cognitive Psychology, 3, 430-454. [pdf]

Week 2 (Jan 16): Heuristics, biases, and some discontent

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1982). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 1974, 185, 1124-1131. [pdf]

Einhorn, H. J., & Hogarth, R. M. (1981). Behavioral decision theory: Processes of judgment and choice. Annual Review of Psychology, 32, 53-88. [pdf]

Week 3 (Jan 23): Defending and extending the paradigm

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1982). On the study of statistical intuitions. Cognition, 11, 123-141. [pdf]

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1983). Extensional versus intuitive reasoning: The conjunction fallacy in probability judgment. Psychological Review, 90, 293-315. [pdf]

Week 4 (Jan 30): More criticism; and a response

Gigerenzer, G. (1991). How to make cognitive illusions disappear: Beyond "heuristics and biases." European Review of Social Psychology, 2, 83-115. [pdf]

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1996). On the reality of cognitive illusions. Psychological Review, 103, 582-591. [pdf]

Gigerenzer, G. (1996). On narrow norms and vague heuristics: A reply to Kahneman and Tversky. Psychological Review, 103, 592-596. [pdf]

Week 5 (Feb 6): Is poor performance more interesting than good performance?

(Note: This week will be a short meeting, so there is relatively little reading.)

Christensen-Szalanski, J. J. J., & Beach, L. R. (1984). The citation bias: Fad and fashion in the judgment and decision literature. American Psychologist, 39, 75-78. [pdf]

Lopes, L. L. (1991). The rhetoric of irrationality. Theory & Psychology, 1, 65-82. [pdf]

Week 6 (Feb 13): Some recent developments I

Kahneman, D. & Frederick, S. (2002). Representativeness revisited: Attribute substitution in intuitive judgment. In T. Gilovich, D. Griffin, and D. Kahneman (Eds.), Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment (pp. 49-81). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [pdf]

Shah, A. K., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2008). Heuristics made easy: An effort-reduction framework. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 207-222. [pdf]

Week 7 (Feb 20): Some recent developments II

Slovic, P., Finucane, M., Peters, E., & MacGregor, D. G. (2002). The affect heuristic. In T. Gilovich, D. Griffin, and D. Kahneman (Eds.), Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment (pp. 397-420). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [pdf]

McKenzie, C. R. M., & Sher, S. (2012). Gambles, affect, and information leakage. Unpublished manuscript.

Week 8 (Feb 27): Some recent developments III

Gilovich, T., & Griffin, D. (2002). Heuristics and biases: Then and now. In T. Gilovich, D. Griffin, and D. Kahneman (Eds.), Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment (pp. 1-18). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [pdf]

Funder, D. C. (1987). Errors and mistakes: Evaluating the accuracy of social judgment. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 75-90. [pdf]

Week 9 (Mar 6): A Nobel Prize

Kahneman, D. (2003). A perspective on judgment and choice: Mapping bounded rationality. American Psychologist, 58, 697-720. [pdf]

Gigerenzer, G. (1991). On cognitive illusions and rationality. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, 21, 225-249. [pdf]

Geisler, W. S., & Kersten, D. (2002). Illusions, perception, and Bayes. Nature Neuroscience, 5, 508-510. [pdf]

Week 10 (Mar 13): Environmental structure, heuristics, and normative principles

(Note: This week there is a lot of reading. Be prepared! For the Todd & Gigerenzer reading, just read the target article.)

Todd, P. M., & Gigerenzer, G. (2000). Precis of "Simple heuristics that make us smart". Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 727-780. [pdf]

Chater, N., Oaksford, M., Nakisa, R., & Redington, M. (2003). Fast, frugal, and rational: How rational norms explain behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 90, 63-86. [pdf]

McKenzie, C. R. M. (2005). Judgment and decision making. In K. Lamberts and R. L. Goldstone (Eds.), Handbook of cognition (pp. 321-338). London: Sage. [pdf]