Winter 2022
Psychology 209: Topics in Judgment and Decision Making

Prof. Craig McKenzie Hours: By appointment
Email: URL:

Fridays, 1-4, Crick Conference Room, 3545 Mandler Hall (3rd floor)

Overview: In the late '60s, the consensus regarding judgment under uncertainty was that people, by and large, behave in accord with normative (or rational) statistical models. In the early '70s, Tversky and Kahneman revolutionized thinking about this area by arguing that people rely on a few simple cognitive shortcuts (heuristics) that lead to systematic errors (biases). This new view led research in the area to mesh better with cognitive psychology by focusing on the cognitive processes underlying judgment. Although the heuristics-and-biases paradigm has had a large impact on all social sciences and some applied areas (e.g., business, law, medicine), it has come under constant attack. We'll discuss the paradigm, why it has come under constant attack, recent developments, and alternate perspectives.

Requirements: Thoughtful reading and discussion are required. Participants must do all the reading each week and come to class prepared to discuss it. Grades will be based on class participation. Short papers might also be required (in which case they will also influence grades).

Week 1 (Jan 7): 1950's: Psychology gets introduced to decision making

(Note: These are both landmark papers. The Edwards review article is long and somewhat technical. No need to pore over it (unless you want to, of course); just get a feel for the ground covered, and how it's covered. Read the Simon article in its entirety, but don't get bogged down in the technical details.)

Edwards, E. (1954). The theory of decision making. Psychological Bulletin, 51, 380-417. [pdf]

Simon, H. A. (1956). Rational choice and the structure of the environment. Psychological Review, 63, 129-138. [pdf]

Week 2 (Jan 14): 1960's: Some tentative conclusions about the relation between behavior and rationality

(Note: Don't get bogged down in technical details, but get a feel for the types of tasks studied, how they are studied, and the conclusions drawn.)

Peterson, C. R., & Beach, L. R. (1967). Man as an intuitive statistician. Psychological Bulletin, 68, 29-46. [pdf]

Edwards, W. (1982). Conservatism in human information processing. In D. Kahneman, P. Slovic, & A. Tversky (Eds.), Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases (pp. 359-369). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts from a chapter in B. Kleinmuntz (Ed.), Formal representation of human judgment (pp. 17-52), 1968. New York: Wiley.) [pdf]

Week 3 (Jan 21): Heuristics, biases, and some discontent

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1972). Subjective probability: A judgment of representativeness. Cognitive Psychology, 3, 430-454. [pdf]

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 1974, 185, 1124-1131. [pdf]

Einhorn, H. J., & Hogarth, R. M. (1981). Behavioral decision theory: Processes of judgment and choice. Annual Review of Psychology, 32, 53-88. [pdf]

Recommended (not required): Leong, L. M., Mueller-Trede, J., & McKenzie, C. R. M. (2021). Is it a judgment of representativeness? Re-examining the birth sequence problem. Unpublished manuscript. [pdf]

Week 4 (Jan 28): Defending and extending the paradigm

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1982). On the study of statistical intuitions. Cognition, 11, 123-141. [pdf]

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1983). Extensional versus intuitive reasoning: The conjunction fallacy in probability judgment. Psychological Review, 90, 293-315. [pdf]

Week 5 (Feb 4): More criticism; and a response

Gigerenzer, G. (1991). How to make cognitive illusions disappear: Beyond "heuristics and biases." European Review of Social Psychology, 2, 83-115. [pdf]

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1996). On the reality of cognitive illusions. Psychological Review, 103, 582-591. [pdf]

Gigerenzer, G. (1996). On narrow norms and vague heuristics: A reply to Kahneman and Tversky. Psychological Review, 103, 592-596. [pdf]

Week 6 (Feb 11): Is poor performance more interesting than good performance?

Christensen-Szalanski, J. J. J., & Beach, L. R. (1984). The citation bias: Fad and fashion in the judgment and decision literature. American Psychologist, 39, 75-78. [pdf]

Lopes, L. L. (1991). The rhetoric of irrationality. Theory & Psychology, 1, 65-82. [pdf]

Recommended (not required): Davis, M. S. (1971). That's interesting! Towards a phenomonelogy of sociology and a sociology of phenomenology. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 1, 309-344. [pdf]

Week 7 (Feb 18): Still more debate

Gilovich, T., & Griffin, D. (2002). Heuristics and biases: Then and now. In T. Gilovich, D. Griffin, and D. Kahneman (Eds.), Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment (pp. 1-18). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [pdf]

Funder, D. C. (1987). Errors and mistakes: Evaluating the accuracy of social judgment. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 75-90. [pdf]

Week 8 (Feb 25): A Nobel Prize

Kahneman, D. (2003). A perspective on judgment and choice: Mapping bounded rationality. American Psychologist, 58, 697-720. [pdf]

Gigerenzer, G. (1991). On cognitive illusions and rationality. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, 21, 225-249. [pdf]

Recommended: Geisler, W. S., & Kersten, D. (2002). Illusions, perception, and Bayes. Nature Neuroscience, 5, 508-510. [pdf]

Week 9 (Mar 4): Alternate frameworks for understanding judgment and decision making...

(Note: For the Todd & Gigerenzer reading, read the target article, but skim through the commentaries to see if there are any familiar names or particular commentaries you want to read.)

Todd, P. M., & Gigerenzer, G. (2000). Precis of Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 727-780. [pdf]

Chater, N. & Oaksford, M. (1999). Ten years of the rational analysis of cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 3, 57-65. [pdf]

Recommended: McKenzie, C. R. M. (2005). Judgment and decision making. In K. Lamberts and R. L. Goldstone (Eds.), Handbook of cognition (pp. 321-338). London: Sage. [pdf]

Recommended: McKenzie, C. R. M. (2003). Rational models as theories, not standards, of behavior. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 403-406. [pdf]

Week 10 (Mar 11): ...and their different implications for improving decision making

Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008). Nudge: Improving decisons about health, wealth, and happiness. Yale University Press. (Introduction and Chapter 1, pp 1-39.) [pdf]

McKenzie, C. R. M., Sher, S., Leong, L. M., & Mueller-Trede, J. (2018). Constructed preferences, rationality, and choice architecture. Review of Behavioral Economics.) [pdf]

Recommended: Sher, S., McKenzie, C. R. M., Mueller-Trede, J., & Leong, L. M. (2021). Rational choice in context. Final draft to appear in Current Directions in Psychological Science. [pdf]