Prior Divergence: Do Researchers and Participants Share the Same Prior Probability Distributions?

Cognitive Science, Forthcoming

29 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2010

See all articles by Christina Fang

Christina Fang

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Sari Carp

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zur Shapira

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics; New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Date Written: November 28, 2010

Abstract

Do participants bring their own priors to an experiment? If so, do they share the same priors as the researchers who design the experiment? In this paper, we examine the extent to which self-generated priors conform to experimenters’ expectations by explicitly asking participants to indicate their own priors in estimating the probability of a variety of events. We find in Study 1 that despite being instructed to follow a uniform distribution, participants appear to have used their own priors that deviated from the given instructions. Using subjects’ own priors allows us to account better for their responses rather than merely to test the accuracy of their estimates. Implications for the study of judgment and decision making are discussed.

Keywords: Prior probability distributions, decision making, experimental design

Suggested Citation

Fang, Christina and Carp, Sari and Shapira, Zur, Prior Divergence: Do Researchers and Participants Share the Same Prior Probability Distributions? (November 28, 2010). Cognitive Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1716343

Christina Fang (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

Sari Carp

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zur Shapira

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

40 West Fourth Street, 7-06
New York, NY 10012
United States

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

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