Exploratory thought

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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.

Psychology is the science of behavior and mind. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of phenomena linked to those emergent properties, joining this way the broader neuroscientific group of researchers. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.

Contents

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. [1] 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.

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.

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. [2] 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. [3] Because those conditions rarely exist, they argue, most people are engaging in confirmatory thought most of the time. [4]

In statistics

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. [5] Subsequent statisticians, philosophers of science, and organizational psychologists have expanded on the topic. [6] [7]

Princeton University University in Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, then to the current site nine years later, and renamed itself Princeton University in 1896.

A statistician is a person who works with theoretical or applied statistics. The profession exists in both the private and public sectors. It is common to combine statistical knowledge with expertise in other subjects, and statisticians may work as employees or as statistical consultants.

John Tukey American mathematician

John Wilder Tukey was an American mathematician best known for development of the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) algorithm and box plot. The Tukey range test, the Tukey lambda distribution, the Tukey test of additivity, and the Teichmüller–Tukey lemma all bear his name. He is also credited with coining the term 'bit'.

See also

Empirical research is research using empirical evidence. It is a way of gaining knowledge by means of direct and indirect observation or experience. Empiricism values such research more than other kinds. Empirical evidence can be analyzed quantitatively or qualitatively. Quantifying the evidence or making sense of it in qualitative form, a researcher can answer empirical questions, which should be clearly defined and answerable with the evidence collected. Research design varies by field and by the question being investigated. Many researchers combine qualitative and quantitative forms of analysis to better answer questions which cannot be studied in laboratory settings, particularly in the social sciences and in education.

Exploratory research is research conducted for a problem that has not been studied more clearly, intended to establish priorities, develop operational definitions and improve the final research design. Exploratory research helps determine the best research design, data-collection method and selection of subjects. It should draw definitive conclusions only with extreme caution. Given its fundamental nature, exploratory research often relies on techniques such as:

Impartiality is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objective criteria, rather than on the basis of bias, prejudice, or preferring the benefit to one person over another for improper reasons.

Related Research Articles

A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. Individuals create their own "subjective social reality" from their perception of the input. An individual's construction of social reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behaviour in the social 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 one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. 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, emotionally charged issues, and for deeply entrenched-beliefs.

A heuristic technique, often called simply a heuristic, is any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method, not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, or rational, but instead sufficient for reaching an immediate goal. Where finding an optimal solution is impossible or impractical, heuristic methods can be used to speed up the process of finding a satisfactory solution. Heuristics can be mental shortcuts that ease the cognitive load of making a decision. Examples that employ heuristics include using a rule of thumb, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, a guesstimate, profiling, or common sense.

Lawrence Kohlberg was an American psychologist best known for his theory of stages of moral development.

Moral reasoning, also known as moral development, is a study in psychology that overlaps with moral philosophy. Children can make moral decisions about what is right and wrong from a young age; 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.

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.

Social intuitionism

In moral psychology, social intuitionism is a model that proposes that moral positions and judgments are: (1) primarily intuitive, (2) rationalized, justified, or otherwise explained after the fact, (3) taken mainly to influence other people, and are (4) often influenced and sometimes changed by discussing such positions with others.

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.

Peter Carruthers (philosopher) American philosopher

Peter Carruthers is a British-American philosopher and cognitive scientist working primarily in the area of philosophy of mind, though he has also made contributions to philosophy of language and ethics. He is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, College Park, associate member of Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program and member of the Committee for Philosophy and the Sciences.

Philip E. Tetlock American political science writer

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.

Motivated reasoning is an emotion-biased decision-making phenomenon studied in cognitive science and social psychology. This term describes the role of motivation in cognitive processes such as decision-making and attitude change in a number of paradigms, including:

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.

References

  1. Schneider, ed. by Sandra L.; Shanteau, James (2003). Emerging perspectives on judgment and decision research. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press. pp. 438–9. ISBN   052152718X.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  2. Schneider, ed. by Sandra L.; Shanteau, James (2003). Emerging perspectives on judgment and decision research. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 445. ISBN   052152718X.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  3. Haidt, Jonathan (2012). The Righteous Mind : Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York: Pantheon Books. pp. 1473-4 (e-book edition). ISBN   978-0307377906.
  4. Lindzey, edited by Susan T. Fiske, Daniel T. Gilbert, Gardner (2010). The handbook of social psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley. p. 811. ISBN   978-0470137499.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  5. Tukey, John W. (1980). "We Need Both Exploratory and Confirmatory". The American Statistician. 34 (1): 23–25. doi:10.2307/2682991. JSTOR   2682991.
  6. Hurley, A. E. et al. (1997) "Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis: guidelines, issues, and alternatives" Journal of Organizational Behavior18:667-83
  7. Thompson, B. (2004) Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis: Understanding concepts and applications (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association) ISBN   1591470935

Further reading