Lack of ability to think probabilistically makes one prone to a variety of irrational fears and vulnerable to scams designed to exploit probabilistic naiveté, impairs decision making under uncertainty, facilitates the misinterpretation of statistical information, and precludes critical evaluation of likelihood claims. Cognition and Chance presents an overview of the information needed to avoid such pitfalls and to assess and respond to probabilistic situations in a rational way. Dr. Nickerson investigates such questions as how good individuals are at thinking probabilistically and how consistent their reasoning under uncertainty is with principles of mathematical statistics and probability theory. He reviews evidence that has been produced in researchers' attempts to investigate these and similar types of questions. Seven conceptual chapters address such topics as probability, chance, randomness, coincidences, inverse probability, paradoxes, dilemmas, and statistics. The remaining five chapters focus on empirical studies of individuals' abilities and limitations as probabilistic thinkers. Topics include estimation and prediction, perception of covariation, choice under uncertainty, and people as intuitive probabilists.
Cognition and Chance is intended to appeal to researchers and students in the areas of probability, statistics, psychology, business, economics, decision theory, and social dilemmas.
"This book is an insightful lesson on how one's worldview affects one's thinking, even in certain mathematical applications."
—Journal of Psychology and Christianity
"…the book brings together many diverse sources and results on a host of topics….it could serve as a useful starting point for a new researcher beginning a study of some aspect of quantitative reasoning."
"…for the newcomer the book provides an excellent introduction to this field of research, and the connoisseur will appreciate the book as a useful handbook allowing for quick refreshers of the many empirical results already available."
"I liked this book a lot….Nickerson has done a fine job in putting together coherently a wide range of material…this book is remarkably well timed."
—Howard Wainer, Ph.D.
Distinguished Research Scientist, National Board of Medical Examiners
"This book presents a more inclusive report of the literature on probabilistic reasoning, without a specific application in mind, allowing for both broader coverage of the field, and for deeper exploration of inherently interesting and provocative reasoning and problems….The quality of scholarship…is impressive, with…classic citations as well as a diversity of perspectives representing current thinking on the problems….Business school students would probably greatly benefit from this book….As a researcher, I find this book to be a very useful collection of the research on probabilistic reasoning, and would absolutely want a copy for my own library….I could imagine using this text in a graduate or upper level undergraduate course on judgment and decision making."
—Julie Downs, Ph.D.
Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University
"It is comprehensive in its approach to scholarship and does not choose a single point of view from among the usual ones. Instead, it offers wise and clever comments on the many different perspectives that exist."
—Jonathan Baron, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
Contents: Foreword. Probability and Chance. Randomness. Coincidences. Inverse Probability. Some Instructive Problems. Paradoxes and Dilemmas. Statistics. Estimation and Prediction. Perception of Covariation. Choice Under Uncertainty. People as Intuitive Probabilists. Concluding Comments.