Uncertainty and the difficulty of thinking through disjunctions

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This paper considers the relationship between decision under uncertainty and thinking through disjunctions. Decision situations that lead to violations of Savage's sure-thing principle are examined, and a variety of simple reasoning problems that often generate confusion and error are reviewed. The common difficulty is attributed to people's reluctance to think through disjunctions. Instead of hypothetically traveling through the branches of a decision tree, it is suggested, people suspend judgement and remain at the node. This interpretation is applied to instances of decision making, information search, deductive and inductive reasoning, probabilistic judgement, games, puzzles and paradoxes. Some implications of the reluctance to think through disjunctions, as well as potential corrective procedures, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-430
Number of pages28
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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