Philosophers' biased judgments persist despite training, expertise and reflection

Cognition. 2015 Aug;141:127-37. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.04.015. Epub 2015 May 14.


We examined the effects of framing and order of presentation on professional philosophers' judgments about a moral puzzle case (the "trolley problem") and a version of the Tversky & Kahneman "Asian disease" scenario. Professional philosophers exhibited substantial framing effects and order effects, and were no less subject to such effects than was a comparison group of non-philosopher academic participants. Framing and order effects were not reduced by a forced delay during which participants were encouraged to consider "different variants of the scenario or different ways of describing the case". Nor were framing and order effects lower among participants reporting familiarity with the trolley problem or with loss-aversion framing effects, nor among those reporting having had a stable opinion on the issues before participating the experiment, nor among those reporting expertise on the very issues in question. Thus, for these scenario types, neither framing effects nor order effects appear to be reduced even by high levels of academic expertise.

Keywords: Expertise; Framing effects; Loss aversion; Order effects; Reasoning; Social cognition.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morals*
  • Philosophy*
  • Social Perception*