EXPLICITLY AWARE OF CONFLICT: CHALLENGING THE IMPLICIT CONFLICT DETECTION INTERPRETATION OF THE BASE-RATE NEGLECT TASK
Conflict reasoning problems cue two competing responses to the problem, requiring the reasoner to resolve the conflict; non-conflict problems cue the same response. The central claim of the conflict detection literature is that conflict is detected implicitly without explicit awareness. The goal of this research is to test the hypothesis that reasoners are explicitly aware of the conflict with the base-rate reasoning task. Base-rate neglect is the tendency to undervalue base-rate ratios in favour of stereotypical personality descriptions. Conflict is studied with the base-rate task by pitting probabilistic information (the ratio) against believable information (the stereotype); performance is measured on conflict problems relative to non-conflict problems. In this research, the extremity of the base-rate ratios was manipulated and a neutral problem condition was included. Behavioural measures of confidence ratings, response times, and eye-gaze fixation times were collected. Retrospective self-reports were taken regarding awareness of conflict in the problems and conflict resolution strategy. In two experiments, there was compelling evidence that reasoners are more explicitly aware of conflict than previously assumed, that base-rate neglect is a function of conflict resolution strategy, and that the presumed indices of conflict detection index more than detection, namely, processes of conflict resolution and recognition of coherent information. This evidence provides a strong challenge to the predominant conflict-detection interpretation.
reasoning, conflict detection, base-rate neglect
Master of Arts (M.A.)