Inattentive Inference

A recent study examines how people make inferences about the state of the world based on information structures that include irrelevant states. The researchers found that individuals tend to overwinter about states that impact utility, leading to misattribution patterns. The errors in belief updating are not due to effort avoidance or cognitive capacity, but rather to incomplete mental models of the information structure. These mental models are context-dependent and can be influenced by attentional manipulations. The findings suggest that individuals fail to account for alternative causes when forming their beliefs.

Image courtesy of interviewee. December 20, 2023

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