Mind: Section 3

Discussion Questions: Week 3 (October 13)

1. Biases and the description of events (Red)

  • Do the biases and heuristics involved in decision making affect judgments about 'what happened', giving rise to potential differences between individuals in their perception and descriptions of events?
  • If biases do affect judgments about what happened, what does imply about the notion of 'objective reality' --- or at least for the question of how reliable different assessments of what happened (in the context of particular events) actually are?
  • What are the (social, legal, philosophical, ...) implications of this issue, in particular of insecurity in the reliability of different individuals' descriptions of the same event?

2. The persistence of irrational thinking (Blue)

  • Why are the effects of biases and heuristics on decision making so strong --- perhaps even unavoidable --- even when we know (or can be shown) that they lead to incorrect results compared to logical or probabilistic reasoning?
To address this question, it is important to consider two more basic questions:
  • Why are biases and heuristics active in decision making/reasoning in the first place?
  • Are heuristics in reasoning the functional counterparts of the sort of reflexive perceptual judgments made in lower-level cognitive processes like vision? (I.e., is the 'automatic' nature of biases comparable to the way in which we automatically percieve a cube in the examples discussed in class

3. Decision making and social context (Green)

  • To what extent are judgments and decisions determined by factors that are internal to an individual mind (objective assessments of the world) vs. determined by external features of an individual's social context?
  • How can we quantify the role of social context in affecting judgment and decision making?
  • Why might social context influence decision making? Why aren't judgments and decisions strictly determined by internal characteristics of the mind?