Optimistic update bias holds firm: Three tests of robustness following Shah et al.

N Garrett, T Sharot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A diverse body of research has demonstrated that people update their beliefs to a greater extent when receiving good news compared to bad news. Recently, a paper by Shah et al. claimed that this asymmetry does not exist. Here we carefully examine the experiments and simulations described in Shah et al. and follow their analytic approach on our data sets. After correcting for confounds we identify in the experiments of Shah et al., an optimistic update bias for positive life events is revealed. Contrary to claims made by Shah et al., we observe that participants update their beliefs in a more Bayesian manner after receiving good news than bad. Finally, we show that the parameters Shah et al. pre-selected for simulations are at odds with participants’ data, making these simulations irrelevant to the question asked. Together this report makes a strong case for a true optimistic asymmetry in belief updating.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-22
Number of pages11
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Volume50
Early online date9 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

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