Individual and Group Decision Making: Current Issues

By N. John Castellan Jr. | Go to book overview

found to be wrong or unconvincing. The claim that probabilities are diagnostically relevant to a large series of cases but irrelevant to the individual cases that compose the series is logically indefensible. Similarly, the argument that would treat overtly probabilistic evidence as diagnostically inferior to evidence that is only implicitly probabilistic cannot be sustained; probative value is not negatively related to numerical explicitness.

Although probability evidence can and should be defended against these criticisms, special problems associated with base rate evidence were identified. Most worrisome are the difficulties associated with identifying appropriate reference classes and treating target cases as if they were sampled at random from these reference classes. These problems are serious and deserve more attention than they have received. On the other hand, it was argued that these problems do not necessarily justify disregarding base rates in favor of other types of evidence as some have suggested. Instead, the probative value of base rates that are not obtained under ideal circumstances should be treated as an empirical matter. Hopefully, future studies will investigate the important prescriptive issues related to identifying the conditions under which attentiveness to these suboptimal base rates will and will not improve judgmental accuracy in the courtroom and elsewhere.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Thanks are due to Joseph Gastwirth for his comments on an earlier version of this chapter. Some of the ideas presented here were discussed in a Cornell Law Review ( 1990) article by the author and Daniel N. Shaviro.


REFERENCES

Balla J. I., Iansek R., & Elstein A. ( 1985). "Bayesian diagnosis in presence of preexisting disease". The Lancet, 1, 326-329.

Bar-Hillel M. ( 1983). The base rate fallacy controversy. In R. W. Scholz (Ed.), Decision making under uncertainty (pp. 39-61). North-Holland: Elsevier.

Brilmayer L. ( 1986). "Second-order evidence and Bayesian logic". Boston University Law Review, 66, 673-691.

Brilmayer L., & Kornhauser L. ( 1978). "Review: Quantitative methods and legal decisions". University of Chicago Law Review, 46, 116-153.

Cohen L. J. ( 1977). The probable and the provable. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Cohen L. J. ( 1981). "Can human irrationality be experimentally demonstrated?" The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 4, 317-331.

Duthie B., & Vincent K. R. ( 1986). "Diagnostic hit rates of high point codes for the diagnostic inventory of personality and symptoms using random assignment, base rates, and probability scales". Journal of Clinical Psychology, 42, 612-614.

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

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