Tag Archives: Erev

Cultural decision making

Cultural-differencesThis post is based on a paper, “Cross Cultural Differences in Decisions from Experience: Evidence from Denmark, Israel, and Taiwan,” authored by Sibilla Di Guida, Ido Erev, and David Marchiori. It is a 2015 working paper of ECARES. It immediately reminded me Richard Nisbett’s Geography of Thought.

Richard Nisbett in Geography of Thought provides interesting insights into such differences.  He divides the world into Easterners and Westerners.  Easterners have difficulty in recognizing changes in objects, while Westerners cannot recognize changes in backgrounds.  Easterners believe that the world is complicated and inscrutable.  Westerners believe that they can understand the world. Westerners create simple and useful models that can be tested, but tend to focus on the object and slight the possible role of context.  Westerners are particularly susceptible to the fundamental attribution error–thinking other people’s actions are explained by what they are, while my actions are explained by circumstances.  The table below sets out some more distinctions.

Easterners Westerners
Medicine holistic object oriented, interventionist-surgery
Law/Engineering more engineers/less lawyers more lawyers/less engineers
Debate avoid conflict–meetings ratify consensus attempt persuasion, faith in free market of ideas
Science Japan 2 Nobel prizes in 90s US 44 Nobel prizes in 90s
Contracts Tentative agreed upon guides for future-changeable Fixed-deal is a deal
International Relations ambiguity of causality so that they insist on apology even if seems to be their fault
Society as cells of organism aggregate of individuals
Human Rights shared rights-continuous substances individual rights-units
Religion both/and-can be Buddhist and Christian right/wrong-one Calvinist hell

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Signal Detection for Categorical Decisions


erev2This post looks at signal detection theory (SDT) once again. Ken Hammond helped me see the power of signal detection as a descriptive theory (post Irreducible Uncertainty..) The last year of news with respect to fatal encounters between the police and the public has made me think of signal detection again as quite relevant. I should note that Ken Hammond died in May 2015 and I am looking for his last paper  “Concepts from Aeronautical Engineering Can Lead to Advances in Social Psychology”.  This post is based on a paper: “Signal Detection by Human Observers: A Cutoff Reinforcement Learning Model of Categorization Decisions Under Uncertainty,” written by Ido Erev that appeared in the Journal of the American Psychological Association, 1998, Vol. 105, No. 2, 280-298. This paper is important, but dated.

Many common activities involve binary categorization decisions under uncertainty. The police must try to distinguish between the individuals who can and want to harm the public and/or the police from others.  A doctor has to decide whether or not he should do more tests to see if you may have cancer. According to Erev, the frequent performance of categorization decisions and the observation that they can have high survival value suggest that the cognitive processes that determine these decisions should be simple and adaptive. Thus, it could be hypothesized that one basic (simple and adaptive) model can be used to describe these processes within a wide set of situations.

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