Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cognitive Dissonance & Choice Rationalization Revisted

John Tierney has a good piece in the NYtimes on Yale economist Dr. Chen's recent findings that suggest some of the older psychology experiments which showed choice rationalization were really just showing the Monty Hall phenomenon:
The Monty Hall Problem has struck again, and this time it’s not merely embarrassing mathematicians. If the calculations of a Yale economist are correct, there’s a sneaky logical fallacy in some of the most famous experiments in psychology.

The economist, M. Keith Chen, has challenged research into cognitive dissonance, including the 1956 experiment that first identified a remarkable ability of people to rationalize their choices. Dr. Chen says that choice rationalization could still turn out to be a real phenomenon, but he maintains that there’s a fatal flaw in the classic 1956 experiment and hundreds of similar ones. He says researchers have fallen for a version of what mathematicians call the Monty Hall Problem, in honor of the host of the old television show, “Let’s Make a Deal".
Link to Monty Hall game.

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