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.
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