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Belief Polarization Is Not Always Irrational

Belief Polarization Is Not Always Irrational Belief polarization occurs when 2 people with opposing prior beliefs both strengthen their beliefs after observing the same data. Many authors have cited belief polarization as evidence of irrational behavior. We show, however, that some instances of polarization are consistent with a normative account of belief revision. Our analysis uses Bayesian networks to characterize different kinds of relationships between hypotheses and data, and distinguishes between cases in which normative reasoners with opposing beliefs should both strengthen their beliefs, cases in which both should weaken their beliefs, and cases in which one should strengthen and the other should weaken his or her belief. We apply our analysis to several previous studies of belief polarization and present a new experiment that suggests that people tend to update their beliefs in the directions predicted by our normative account. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Psychological Review American Psychological Association

Belief Polarization Is Not Always Irrational

Psychological Review , Volume 121 (2): 19 – Apr 1, 2014

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Publisher
American Psychological Association
Copyright
© 2014 American Psychological Association
ISSN
0033-295x
eISSN
1939-1471
DOI
10.1037/a0035941
pmid
24730598
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Belief polarization occurs when 2 people with opposing prior beliefs both strengthen their beliefs after observing the same data. Many authors have cited belief polarization as evidence of irrational behavior. We show, however, that some instances of polarization are consistent with a normative account of belief revision. Our analysis uses Bayesian networks to characterize different kinds of relationships between hypotheses and data, and distinguishes between cases in which normative reasoners with opposing beliefs should both strengthen their beliefs, cases in which both should weaken their beliefs, and cases in which one should strengthen and the other should weaken his or her belief. We apply our analysis to several previous studies of belief polarization and present a new experiment that suggests that people tend to update their beliefs in the directions predicted by our normative account.

Journal

Psychological ReviewAmerican Psychological Association

Published: Apr 1, 2014

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