Motivated Reasoning and Performance on the was on Selection Task

  • Dawson E
  • Gilovich T
  • Regan D
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People tend to approach agreeable propositions with a bias toward confirmation and disagreeable propositions with a bias toward disconfirmation. Because the appropriate strategy for solving the four-card Wason selection task is to seek disconfirmation, the authors predicted that people motivated to reject a task rule should be more likely to solve the task than those without such motivation. In two studies, participants who considered a Wason task rule that implied their own early death (Study 1) or the validity of a threatening stereotype (Study 2) vastly outperformed participants who considered nonthreatening or agreeable rules. Discussion focuses on how a skeptical mindset may help people avoid confirmation bias both in the context of theWason task and in everyday reasoning.

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  • Erica Dawson

  • Thomas Gilovich

  • Dennis T. Regan

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