Optimal predictions in everyday cognition

Thomas L. Griffiths, Joshua B. Tenenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

374 Scopus citations


Human perception and memory are often explained as optimal statistical inferences that are informed by accurate prior probabilities. Incontrast, cognitive judgments are usually viewed as following error-prone heuristics that are insensitive to priors. We examined the optimality of human cognition in a more realistic context than typical laboratory studies, asking people to make predictions about the duration or extent of everyday phenomena such as human life spans and the box-office take of movies. Our results suggest that everyday cognitive judgments follow the same optimal statistical principles as perception and memory, and reveal a close correspondence between people's implicit probabilistic models and the statistics of the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-773
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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