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The inverse conjunction fallacy

Jonsson, M. L. & Hampton, J. A. (2006). The inverse conjunction fallacy. Journal of Memory and Language, 55(3), pp. 317-334. doi: 10.1016/j.jml.2006.06.005


If people believe that some property is true of all members of a class such as sofas, then they should also believe that the same property is true of all members of a conjunctively defined subset of that class such as uncomfortable handmade sofas. A series of experiments demonstrated a failure to observe this constraint, leading to what is termed the inverse conjunction fallacy. Not only did people often express a belief in the more general statement but not in the more specific, but also when they accepted both beliefs, they were inclined to give greater confidence to the more general. It is argued that this effect underlies a number of other demonstrations of fallacious reasoning, particularly in category-based induction. Alternative accounts of the phenomenon are evaluated, and it is concluded that the effect is best interpreted in terms of intensional reasoning [Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1983). Extensional versus intuitive reasoning: the conjunction fallacy in probability judgment. Psychological Review, 90, 293–315.].

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: fallacy, conjunction, concepts, beliefs, intensional reasoning, similarity, CATEGORY-BASED INDUCTION, INHERITANCE, TREE
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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