Coherent probability from incoherent judgment

  • Osherson D
  • Lane D
  • Hartley P
 et al. 
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People often have knowledge about the chances of events but are unable to express their knowledge in the form of coherent probabilities. This study proposed to correct incoherent judgment via an optimization procedure that seeks the (coherent) probability distribution nearest to a judge's estimates of chance. This method was applied to the chances of simple and complex meteorological events, as estimated by college undergraduates. No judge responded coherently, but the optimization method found close (coherent) approximations to their estimates. Moreover, the approximations were reliably more accurate than the original estimates, as measured by the quadratic scoring rule. Methods for correcting incoherence facilitate the analysis of expected utility and allow human judgment to be more easily exploited in the construction of expert systems.

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  • Daniel Osherson

  • David Lane

  • Peter Hartley

  • Richard R. Batsell

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