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The Myth of a Pessimistic View of Optimistic Belief Updating – A Commentary on Shah et al.

14 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2016 Last revised: 16 Sep 2016

Tali Sharot

University College London - Affective Brain Lab, Department of Experimental Psychology

Neil Garrett

University College London - Affective Brain Lab, Department of Experimental Psychology

Date Written: July 19, 2016

Abstract

This paper critically examines the experiments, simulations and analysis reported in Shah et al. (2017) regarding optimistic asymmetry in belief updating. We report that after correcting for confounds identified in Shah et al., participants do not show a pessimistic update bias for positive life events and consistently update their beliefs in a more Bayesian manner after receiving desirable compared to undesirable information. We further reveal that the specific parameters Shah et al. pre-selected for simulations are at odds with participants' data, making these simulations irrelevant to the question asked. Together this report makes a strong case for a true optimistic asymmetry in belief updating which is robust to variations in analysis, classification schemes and task stimuli.

Keywords: Belief Updating, Optimism

Suggested Citation

Sharot, Tali and Garrett, Neil, The Myth of a Pessimistic View of Optimistic Belief Updating – A Commentary on Shah et al. (July 19, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2811752 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2811752

Tali Sharot (Contact Author)

University College London - Affective Brain Lab, Department of Experimental Psychology ( email )

London
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://affectivebrain.com

Neil Garrett

University College London - Affective Brain Lab, Department of Experimental Psychology ( email )

Department of Experimental Psychology
London, WC1H 0AP
United Kingdom

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