We propose that in attempting to detect whether an effect exists or not, people set their decision criterion so as to increase the number of hits and decrease the number of misses, at the cost of increasing false alarms and decreasing correct rejections. As a result, we argue, if one of two complementary events is framed as the positive response to a question and the other as the negative response, people will tend to predict the former more often than the latter. Performance in a prediction task with symmetric payoffs and equal base rates supported our proposal. Positive responses were indeed more prevalent than negative responses, irrespective of the phrasing of the question. The bias, slight but consistent and significant, was evident from early in a session and then remained unchanged to the end. A regression analysis revealed that, in addition, individuals' decision criteria reflected their learning experiences, with the weight of hits being greater than that of correct rejections.
- Decision making
- Type I and Type II errors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)