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Adaptive Probability Theory: Human Biases as an Adaptation

By André C. R. Martins


Humans make mistakes in our decision-making and probability judgments. While the heuristics used for decision-making have been explained as adaptations that are both efficient and fast, the reasons why people deal with probabilities using the reported biases have not been clear. We will see that some of these biases can be understood as heuristics developed to explain a complex world when little information is available. That is, they approximate Bayesian inferences for situations more complex than the ones in laboratory experiments and in this sense might have appeared as an adaptation to those situations. When ideas as uncertainty and limited sample sizes are included in the problem, the correct probabilities are changed to values close to the observed behavior. These ideas will be used to explain the observed weight functions, the violations of coalescing and stochastic dominance reported in the literature

Topics: Decision Theory, Evolutionary Psychology
Year: 2005
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