Prevalence-induced concept change in human judgment.

Published on Jun 29, 2018in Science41.845
· DOI :10.1126/SCIENCE.AAP8731
David E. Levari1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Harvard University),
Daniel T. Gilbert65
Estimated H-index: 65
(Harvard University)
+ 3 AuthorsThalia Wheatley30
Estimated H-index: 30
(Dartmouth College)
Why do some social problems seem so intractable? In a series of experiments, we show that people often respond to decreases in the prevalence of a stimulus by expanding their concept of it. When blue dots became rare, participants began to see purple dots as blue; when threatening faces became rare, participants began to see neutral faces as threatening; and when unethical requests became rare, participants began to see innocuous requests as unethical. This “prevalence-induced concept change” occurred even when participants were forewarned about it and even when they were instructed and paid to resist it. Social problems may seem intractable in part because reductions in their prevalence lead people to see more of them.
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