Cognitive abilities, monitoring confidence, and control thresholds explain individual differences in heuristics and biases

Article


Jackson, Simon A., Kleitman, Sabina, Howie, Pauline and Stankov, Lazar. 2016. "Cognitive abilities, monitoring confidence, and control thresholds explain individual differences in heuristics and biases." Frontiers in Psychology. 7, pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01559
Article Title

Cognitive abilities, monitoring confidence, and control thresholds explain individual differences in heuristics and biases

ERA Journal ID123048
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsJackson, Simon A. (Author), Kleitman, Sabina (Author), Howie, Pauline (Author) and Stankov, Lazar (Author)
Journal TitleFrontiers in Psychology
Journal Citation7, pp. 1-14
Article Number1559
Number of Pages14
Year2016
PublisherFrontiers Media SA
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
ISSN1664-1078
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01559
Web Address (URL)http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01559/full
Abstract

In this paper, we investigate whether individual differences in performance on heuristic and biases tasks can be explained by cognitive abilities, monitoring confidence, and control thresholds. Current theories explain individual differences in these tasks by the ability to detect errors and override automatic but biased judgments, and deliberative cognitive abilities that help to construct the correct response. Here we retain cognitive abilities but disentangle error detection, proposing that lower monitoring confidence and higher control thresholds promote error checking. Participants (N = 250) completed tasks assessing their fluid reasoning abilities, stable monitoring confidence levels, and the control threshold they impose on their decisions. They also completed seven typical heuristic and biases tasks such as the cognitive reflection test and Resistance to Framing. Using structural equation modeling, we found that individuals with higher reasoning abilities, lower monitoring confidence, and higher control threshold performed significantly and, at times, substantially better on the heuristic and biases tasks. Individuals with higher control thresholds also showed lower preferences for risky alternatives in a gambling task. Furthermore, residual correlations among the heuristic and biases tasks were reduced to null, indicating that cognitive abilities, monitoring confidence, and control thresholds accounted for their shared variance. Implications include the proposal that the capacity to detect errors does not differ between individuals. Rather, individuals might adopt varied strategies that promote error checking to different degrees, regardless of whether they have made a mistake or not. The results support growing evidence that decision-making involves cognitive abilities that construct actions and monitoring and control processes that manage their initiation.

Keywordsbiases; cognitive abilities; confidence; control; decision-making; heuristics; metacognition
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020520401. Cognition
Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Sydney
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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