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Effects of arousal and experimental setting on use of the availability heuristic in frequency and probability estimates
Stockholm University.
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

According to Tversky and Kahneman’s (1973) availability heuristic, people sometimes use the ease with which instances can be retrieved as a cue for making frequency or probability estimations. In the present dissertation, several previous studies on the availability heuristic are reviewed. Due to different methodological shortcomings, a number of these studies are judged to give only partial evidence concerning the validity of the availability heuristic. Three new experiments are presented. Two of them are based on theories stating that high arousal affects memory during the process of encoding and/or retrieving of information, in such a way that comparatively more salient information will be encoded and/or retrieved more easily (Easterbrook, 1959; Eysenck, 1976). It is argued that, if arousal steers memory to more easily available material and availability is used for making frequency estimations, arousal should also affect frequency estimations. In both experiments, subjects recalled significantly more instances from the category that had been made salient and estimated the salient category as significantly larger than the less salient category. In this respect, the availability heuristic gained some support. However, no clear effects of arousal on memory or frequency estimations were found. In the third experiment, the possibility that results reported by Schwartz et al. (1991) could be biased due to testing of subjects in a group setting is examined. As in Schwartz et al., subjects were instructed to describe a number of situations in which they had behaved assertively and then to rate their own assertiveness. Different subjects were instructed to report a different number of situations. All subjects were tested in a group setting, but half of them were given instructions that were supposed to increase their attention to how fast the other subjects in the group completed the task and the other half were given instructions that were supposed to decrease their attention to others. The results were in the expected direction (stronger effects of the number of situations required on self-ratings of assertiveness for those subjects who were supposed to attend to the other subjects than for those who were not supposed to do so), but they were far from significant. The results from the three experiments are discussed in terms of consequences for future research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm University, 1999. , p. 49
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-65252ISBN: 91-7153-999-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-65252DiVA, id: diva2:461848
Public defence
1999-12-20, 10:00
Opponent
Note

Härtill 3 uppsatser

Available from: 2011-12-05 Created: 2011-12-05 Last updated: 2018-04-16Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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