Our perception of probabilities -- especially very small and very large probabilities -- can be markedly distorted and these distortions can lead to suboptimal decisions. The person who feels safer driving across the country than taking a commercial airline flight is making such probability distortions. In a new clinical study funded by the National Eye Institute, researchers at New York University (NYU) and Peking University searched for clues explaining this phenomenon.
Laurence Maloney, Ph.D., professor of psychology and neural science at NYU, and colleagues, show how we distort probability to compensate for our own perceptual and cognitive limitations. Their results are reported in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.