Failure to use probability of success in deciding whether to pursue one goal or two.

Abstract

Difficult tasks should be attempted one at a time, while easy tasks can be undertaken in parallel. Reinforcing our previous conclusion that people are surprisingly poor at applying this logic, we find people fail to select standing positions that maximize their probability of success in throwing a beanbag into one of two possible hoops. We asked participants to explicitly report their odds of successfully throwing a beanbag into each hoop from the location they had chosen to stand, and estimates were highly accurate. Nonetheless, participants failed to use estimates of success appropriately to maximize success, suggesting a failure of insight, rather than limited or inaccurate information, can account for suboptimal decisions about standing position.


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