Hypothesis-testing Behaviour

By Fenna H. Poletiek

© 2000 – Psychology Press

182 pages

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Paperback: 9781138877382
pub: 2015-06-25
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Hardback: 9781841691596
pub: 2000-12-14
US Dollars$140.00
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e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

How do people search evidence for a hypothesis? A well documented answer in cognitive psychology is that they search for confirming evidence. However, the rational strategy is to try to falsify the hypothesis. This book critically evaluates this contradiction. Experimental research is discussed against the background of philosophical and formal theories of hypothesis testing with striking results: Falsificationism and verificationism - the two main rival philosophies of testing - come down to one and the same principle for concrete testing behaviour, eluding the contrast between rational falsification and confirmation bias.

In this book, the author proposes a new perspective for describing hypothesis testing behaviour - the probability-value model - which unifies the contrasting views. According to this model, hypothesis testers pragmatically consider what evidence and how much evidence will convince them to reject or accept the hypothesis. They might either require highly probative evidence for its acceptance, at the risk of its rejection, or protect it against rejection and go for minor confirming observations. Interestingly, the model refines the classical opposition between rationality and pragmaticity because pragmatic considerations are a legitimate aspect of 'rational' hypothesis testing. Possible future research and applications of the ideas advanced are discussed, such as the modelling of expert hypothesis testing.

Reviews

'Poletiek provides an extremely useful and up-to-date discussion of psychological theories of hypothesis testing. Not only does she cover a wide variety of approaches, but provides a very interesting commentary on the way that these approaches relate to the philosophies and formal theories discussed.' - Journal of Behavioural Decision Making

'Poletiek's book is informative, impressive in scope, and original in its integration of traditional dichotomies. It makes a considerable contribution to both the philosophy and psychology of hypothesis testing. It offers, additionally, further opportunity to rethink traditional understandings of what it is for humans (and other beings?) to be rational in their everyday pursuits and how this might be most accurately modelled.' - Studies in the Philosophy of Science

Table of Contents

Introduction. Theories of Testing in the Philosophy of Science. Mathematical Theories of Testing. Wason's Rule Discovery Task. Wason's Selection Task. Hypothesis Testing Under Certainty. Conclusions.

About the Series

Essays in Cognitive Psychology

Essays in Cognitive Psychology is designed to meet the need for rapid publication of brief volumes in cognitive psychology.

Primary topics include perception, movement and action, attention, memory, mental representation, language and problem solving.

Furthermore, the series seeks to define cognitive psychology in its broadest sense, encompassing all topics either informed by, or informing, the study of mental processes. As such, it covers a wide range of subjects including computational approaches to cognition, cognitive neuroscience, social cognition, and cognitive development, as well as areas more traditionally defined as cognitive psychology.

Each volume in the series makes a conceptual contribution to the topic by reviewing and synthesizing the existing research literature, by advancing theory in the area, or by some combination of these missions.

The principal aim is that authors provide an overview of their own highly successful research program in an area.

Volumes also include an assessment of current knowledge and identification of possible future trends in research.

Each book is a self-contained unit supplying the advanced reader with a well-structured review of the work described and evaluated.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSY008000
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology