Thinking About Low-Probability Events: An Exemplar Cuing Theory

7 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2009

See all articles by Jonathan J. Koehler

Jonathan J. Koehler

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law

Laura Macchi

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology & Social Sciences (CISEPS)

Date Written: 2004

Abstract

The way people respond to the chance that an unlikely event will occur depends on how the event is described. We propose that people attach more weight to unlikely events when they can easily generate or imagine examples in which the event has occurred or will occur than when they cannot. We tested this idea in two experiments with mock jurors using written murder scenarios. The results suggested that jurors attach more weight to the defendant's claim that an incriminating DNA match is merely coincidental when it is easy for them to imagine other individuals whose DNA would also match than when it is not easy for them to imagine such individuals. We manipulated the difficulty of imagining such examples by varying the description of the DNA-match statistic. Some of the variations that influenced the jurors were normatively irrelevant.

Keywords: DNA, jurors, match statistic

Suggested Citation

Koehler, Jonathan J. and Macchi, Laura, Thinking About Low-Probability Events: An Exemplar Cuing Theory (2004). Psychological Science, Vol. 15, No. 8, 2004 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1468677

Jonathan J. Koehler (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Laura Macchi

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology & Social Sciences (CISEPS) ( email )

Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo, 1
Milano, 20126
Italy

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