On the relative independence of thinking biases and cognitive ability

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Apr;94(4):672-95. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.94.4.672.


In 7 different studies, the authors observed that a large number of thinking biases are uncorrelated with cognitive ability. These thinking biases include some of the most classic and well-studied biases in the heuristics and biases literature, including the conjunction effect, framing effects, anchoring effects, outcome bias, base-rate neglect, "less is more" effects, affect biases, omission bias, myside bias, sunk-cost effect, and certainty effects that violate the axioms of expected utility theory. In a further experiment, the authors nonetheless showed that cognitive ability does correlate with the tendency to avoid some rational thinking biases, specifically the tendency to display denominator neglect, probability matching rather than maximizing, belief bias, and matching bias on the 4-card selection task. The authors present a framework for predicting when cognitive ability will and will not correlate with a rational thinking tendency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aptitude*
  • Cognition*
  • Culture
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Probability Learning
  • Problem Solving
  • Thinking*