Second-order probability affects hypothesis confirmation

Katya Tentori, Vincenzo Crupi, Daniel Osherson

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9 Scopus citations


Bayesian confirmation measures give numerical expression to the impact of evidence E on a hypothesis H. All measures proposed to date are formal-that is, functions of the probabilities Pr(E∧H), Pr(E∧¬H), Pr(¬E∧H), Pr(¬E∧¬H), and nothing more. Experiments reported in Tentori, Crupi, and Osherson (2007) suggest that human confirmation judgment is not formal, but this earlier work leaves open the possibility that formality holds relative to a given semantic domain. The present study discredits even this weaker version of formality by demonstrating the role in confirmation judgments of a probability distribution defined over the possible values of Pr(E∧H), Pr(E∧¬H), Pr(¬E∧H), and Pr(¬E∧¬H)-that is, a second-order probability. Specifically, when for each of the latter quantities a pointwise value is fixed with a maximal second-order probability, evidence impact is rated in accordance with formal and normatively credible confirmation measures; otherwise evidence impact is systematically judged as more moderate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-134
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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