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Research

Research

What is our research about?

What would I remove if I had a magic wand? Overconfidence

Daniel Kahneman’s famous fairy-tale wish (The Guardian, 18 Jul 2015) conveyed a deeply seated pessimism in cognitive scientists that overconfidence is hardwired into human cognition. It is true that this bias is pervasive, costly and the root cause of many human failures. But, previous failed attempts at reducing overconfidence always targeted individual decisions.

We propose to reduce this bias at SOCIAL level of decision making by determining the underlying mental, neural and social processes involved in overconfidence and testing these models by causal interventions in group situations.

We focus on 3 main directions of research:

1. Communication of Subjective Uncertainty

In honest communication of uncertainty (eg 2 doctors disagreeing over diagnosis), overconfidence impairs joint decisions. The problem here is that different people mean different things when they express the same level of confidence (see panel 1 below).   Panel 1. Equality bias and misunderstanding of uncertainty in honest communication  But when they make decisions together […]

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2. Uncertainty and Social Influence

By focusing on advising and consulting, we use a novel laboratory model that we have recently developed (ie Advising Game) to understand overconfidence helps us influence others when there is conflict of interest. We want to understand the mental and neural processes underlying strategic manipulation of others. Advising Game is played between a client and two […]

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3. Wisdom of Small, Structured Crowds

The aggregation of many independent estimates can outperform the most accurate individual judgment. Such “wisdom of crowds” has recently been applied to problems ranging from the diagnosis of cancer to financial forecasting. It is widely believed that social influence undermines collective wisdom by reducing the diversity of opinions within the crowd. Our research shows that […]

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