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Exploratory thought is an academic term used in the field of psychology to describe reasoning that neutrally considers multiple points of view and tries to anticipate all possible objections to, or flaws in, a particular position, with the goal of seeking truth. The opposite of exploratory thought is confirmatory thought, which is reasoning designed to construct justification supporting a specific point of view.
Both terms were coined by social psychologist Jennifer Lerner and psychology professor Philip Tetlock in the 2002 book Emerging Perspectives in Judgment and Decision Making.The authors argue that most people, most of the time, make decisions based on gut feelings and poor logic, and reason through issues primarily to provide justification, to themselves and to others, of what they already believe.
Lerner and Tetlock say that when people expect to need to justify their position to external parties, and they already know those parties' views, they will tend to adopt a similar position to theirs, and then engage in confirmatory thought with the goal of bolstering their own credibility rather than reaching a good conclusion. However, if the external parties are overly aggressive or critical, people will disengage from thought altogether, and simply assert their personal opinions without justification.Lerner and Tetlock say that people only push themselves to think critically and logically when they know in advance they will need to explain themselves to external parties who are well-informed, genuinely interested in the truth, and whose views they don't already know. Because those conditions rarely exist, they argue, most people are engaging in confirmatory thought most of the time.
Princeton statistician John Tukey wrote about selection between confirmation or rejection of existing hypotheses and exploration of new ones, focusing on how practicing statisticians might decide between the two modes of thought at various junctures.Subsequent statisticians, philosophers of science, and organizational psychologists have expanded on the topic.
Internalism and externalism are two opposing ways of explaining various subjects in several areas of philosophy. These include human motivation, knowledge, justification, meaning, and truth. The distinction arises in many areas of debate with similar but distinct meanings.
A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. Individuals create their own "subjective reality" from their perception of the input. An individual's construction of reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behavior in the world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or strengthens one's prior personal beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for desired outcomes, for emotionally charged issues, and for deeply-entrenched beliefs.
Moral reasoning is a study in psychology that overlaps with moral philosophy. Starting from a young age, people can make moral decisions about what is right and wrong; this makes morality fundamental to the human condition. Moral reasoning, however, is a part of morality that occurs both within and between individuals. Prominent contributors to this theory include Lawrence Kohlberg and Elliot Turiel. The term is sometimes used in a different sense: reasoning under conditions of uncertainty, such as those commonly obtained in a court of law. It is this sense that gave rise to the phrase, "To a moral certainty;" however, this idea is now seldom used outside of charges to juries.
In statistics, exploratory data analysis (EDA) is an approach to analyzing data sets to summarize their main characteristics, often with visual methods. A statistical model can be used or not, but primarily EDA is for seeing what the data can tell us beyond the formal modeling or hypothesis testing task. Exploratory data analysis was promoted by John Tukey to encourage statisticians to explore the data, and possibly formulate hypotheses that could lead to new data collection and experiments. EDA is different from initial data analysis (IDA), which focuses more narrowly on checking assumptions required for model fitting and hypothesis testing, and handling missing values and making transformations of variables as needed. EDA encompasses IDA.
In psychoanalytic theory, a defence mechanism is an unconscious psychological mechanism that reduces anxiety arising from unacceptable or potentially harmful stimuli.
Moral psychology is a field of study in both philosophy and psychology. Historically, the term "moral psychology" was used relatively narrowly to refer to the study of moral development. More recently however, the term has come to refer more broadly to various topics at the intersection of ethics, psychology, and philosophy of mind. Some of the main topics of the field are moral judgment, moral reasoning, moral sensitivity, moral responsibility, moral motivation, moral identity, moral action, moral development, moral diversity, moral character, altruism, psychological egoism, moral luck, moral forecasting, moral emotion, affective forecasting, and moral disagreement.
Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development constitute an adaptation of a psychological theory originally conceived by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget. Kohlberg began work on this topic while being a psychology graduate student at the University of Chicago in 1958 and expanded upon the theory throughout his life.
The Society for Judgment and Decision Making is an interdisciplinary academic organization dedicated to the study of normative, descriptive, and prescriptive theories of decision. Its members include psychologists, economists, organizational and marketing researchers, decision analysts, and other decision researchers. The Society's primary event is its Annual Meeting at which Society members present their research. It also publishes the journal Judgment and Decision Making. The current president of the Society is Rick Larrick.
Selective exposure is a theory within the practice of psychology, often used in media and communication research, that historically refers to individuals' tendency to favor information which reinforces their pre-existing views while avoiding contradictory information. Selective exposure has also been known and defined as "congeniality bias" or "confirmation bias" in various texts throughout the years.
Alice M. Isen was an American psychologist and Professor of Psychology and of Marketing at Cornell University. A prominent and widely published scholar, her research concerned the influence of affect on social interaction, thought processes, and decision making, including applications to organizational behavior, medical decision making, doctor-patient interaction, issues in services marketing, and issues related to brand equity and loyalty. She was among the most highly cited business school faculty members in the world.
In psychology, the human mind is considered to be a cognitive miser due to the tendency of people to think and solve problems in simpler and less effortful ways rather than in more sophisticated and more effortful ways, regardless of intelligence. Just as a miser seeks to avoid spending money, the human mind often seeks to avoid spending cognitive effort. The cognitive miser theory is an umbrella theory of cognition that brings together previous research on heuristics and attributional biases to explain how and why people are cognitive misers.
Moral disengagement is a term from social psychology for the process of convincing the self that ethical standards do not apply to oneself in a particular context. This is done by separating moral reactions from inhumane conduct and disabling the mechanism of self-condemnation. Thus, moral disengagement involves a process of cognitive re-construing or re-framing of destructive behavior as being morally acceptable without changing the behavior or the moral standards. In social cognitive theory of morality, self-regulatory mechanisms embedded in moral standards and self-sanctions translate moral reasoning into actions, and, as a result, moral agency is exerted. Thus, the moral self is situated in a broader, socio-cognitive self-theory consisting of self-organizing, proactive, self-reflective, and self-regulative mechanisms. Three major sub-functions are operating in this self-regulatory system in which moral agency is grounded. The first sub-function is self-monitoring of one's conduct, which is the initial step of taking control over it. "Action gives rise to self-reactions through a judgmental function in which conduct is evaluated against internal standards and situational circumstances". Thus, moral judgments evoke self-reactive influence. The self-reactive and judgmental mechanisms constitute the second and third sub-function.
Philip E. Tetlock is a Canadian-American political science writer, and is currently the Annenberg University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is cross-appointed at the Wharton School and the School of Arts and Sciences. He was elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society in 2019.
The psychology of reasoning is the study of how people reason, often broadly defined as the process of drawing conclusions to inform how people solve problems and make decisions. It overlaps with psychology, philosophy, linguistics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, logic, and probability theory.
Jennifer S. Lerner is an experimental social psychologist known for her research in emotion and decision theory. She is the first psychologist in the history of the Harvard Kennedy School to receive tenure. At Harvard, her titles include Professor of Public Policy and Management, Professor of Psychology, Faculty Director in the Graduate Commons Program, Co-Founder of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory and Co-Director of the Harvard Faculty Group on Emotion, Decision Making, and Health. Her research interests also include: the effects of accountability on judgment and choice and a broad range of psychology applications to policy problems especially in decisions involving health, national security, and economic prosperity. An award-winning teacher, she founded and directs the Leadership Decision Making program within Harvard Kennedy School's executive education program.
Motivated reasoning is phenomenon studied in cognitive science and social psychology that uses emotionally-biased reasoning to produce justifications or make decisions that are most desired rather than those that accurately reflect the evidence, while still reducing cognitive dissonance. In other words, motivated reasoning is the "tendency to find arguments in favor of conclusions we want to believe to be stronger than arguments for conclusions we do not want to believe". It can lead to forming and clinging to false beliefs despite substantial evidence to the contrary. The desired outcome acts as a filter that affects evaluation of scientific evidence and of other people.
The Good Judgment Project (GJP) is a project "harnessing the wisdom of the crowd to forecast world events". It was co-created by Philip E. Tetlock, decision scientist Barbara Mellers, and Don Moore. It was a participant in the Aggregative Contingent Estimation (ACE) program of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) in the United States. Predictions are scored using Brier scores. The top forecasters in GJP are "reportedly 30% better than intelligence officers with access to actual classified information."
Debiasing is the reduction of bias, particularly with respect to judgment and decision making. Biased judgment and decision making is that which systematically deviates from the prescriptions of objective standards such as facts, logic, and rational behavior or prescriptive norms. Biased judgment and decision making exists in consequential domains such as medicine, law, policy, and business, as well as in everyday life. Investors, for example, tend to hold onto falling stocks too long and sell rising stocks too quickly. Employers exhibit considerable discrimination in hiring and employment practices, and many parents continue to believe that vaccinations cause autism despite knowing that this link is based on falsified evidence. At an individual level, people who exhibit less decision bias have more intact social environments, reduced risk of alcohol and drug use, lower childhood delinquency rates, and superior planning and problem solving abilities.
Intuitive statistics, or folk statistics, refers to the cognitive phenomenon where organisms use data to make generalizations and predictions about the world. This can be a small amount of sample data or training instances, which in turn contribute to inductive inferences about either population-level properties, future data, or both. Inferences can involve revising hypotheses, or beliefs, in light of probabilistic data that inform and motivate future predictions. The informal tendency for cognitive animals to intuitively generate statistical inferences, when formalized with certain axioms of probability theory, constitutes statistics as an academic discipline.