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      When A+B < A: Cognitive Bias in Experts’ Judgment of Environmental Impact

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          Abstract

          When ‘environmentally friendly’ items are added to a set of conventional items, people report that the total set will have a lower environmental impact even though the actual impact increases. One hypothesis is that this “negative footprint illusion” arises because people, who are susceptible to the illusion, lack necessary knowledge of the item’s actual environmental impact, perhaps coupled with a lack of mathematical skills. The study reported here addressed this hypothesis by recruiting participants (‘experts’) from a master’s program in energy systems, who thus have bachelor degrees in energy-related fields including academic training in mathematics. They were asked to estimate the number of trees needed to compensate for the environmental burden of two sets of buildings: one set of 150 buildings with conventional energy ratings and one set including the same 150 buildings but also 50 ‘green’ (energy-efficient) buildings. The experts reported that less trees were needed to compensate for the set with 150 conventional and 50 ‘green’ buildings compared to the set with only the 150 conventional buildings. This negative footprint illusion was as large in magnitude for the experts as it was for a group of novices without academic training in energy-related fields. We conclude that people are not immune to the negative footprint illusion even when they have the knowledge necessary to make accurate judgments.

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          Most cited references22

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          Expert and exceptional performance: evidence of maximal adaptation to task constraints.

          Expert and exceptional performance are shown to be mediated by cognitive and perceptual-motor skills and by domain-specific physiological and anatomical adaptations. The highest levels of human performance in different domains can only be attained after around ten years of extended, daily amounts of deliberate practice activities. Laboratory analyses of expert performance in many domains such as chess, medicine, auditing, computer programming, bridge, physics, sports, typing, juggling, dance, and music reveal maximal adaptations of experts to domain-specific constraints. For example, acquired anticipatory skills circumvent general limits on reaction time, and distinctive memory skills allow a domain-specific expansion of working memory capacity to support planning, reasoning, and evaluation. Many of the mechanisms of superior expert performance serve the dual purpose of mediating experts' current performance and of allowing continued improvement of this performance in response to informative feedback during practice activities.
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            A tutorial on a practical Bayesian alternative to null-hypothesis significance testing.

            Null-hypothesis significance testing remains the standard inferential tool in cognitive science despite its serious disadvantages. Primary among these is the fact that the resulting probability value does not tell the researcher what he or she usually wants to know: How probable is a hypothesis, given the obtained data? Inspired by developments presented by Wagenmakers (Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 779-804, 2007), I provide a tutorial on a Bayesian model selection approach that requires only a simple transformation of sum-of-squares values generated by the standard analysis of variance. This approach generates a graded level of evidence regarding which model (e.g., effect absent [null hypothesis] vs. effect present [alternative hypothesis]) is more strongly supported by the data. This method also obviates admonitions never to speak of accepting the null hypothesis. An Excel worksheet for computing the Bayesian analysis is provided as supplemental material.
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              Do green products make us better people?

              Consumer choices reflect not only price and quality preferences but also social and moral values, as witnessed in the remarkable growth of the global market for organic and environmentally friendly products. Building on recent research on behavioral priming and moral regulation, we found that mere exposure to green products and the purchase of such products lead to markedly different behavioral consequences. In line with the halo associated with green consumerism, results showed that people act more altruistically after mere exposure to green products than after mere exposure to conventional products. However, people act less altruistically and are more likely to cheat and steal after purchasing green products than after purchasing conventional products. Together, our studies show that consumption is connected to social and ethical behaviors more broadly across domains than previously thought.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                29 May 2018
                2018
                : 9
                : 823
                Affiliations
                [1] 1Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, University of Gävle , Gävle, Sweden
                [2] 2School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire , Preston, United Kingdom
                Author notes

                Edited by: Geertje Schuitema, University College Dublin, Ireland

                Reviewed by: Elisabeth Stoettinger, University of Salzburg, Austria; Sergio Roncato, Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy

                *Correspondence: Patrik Sörqvist, patrik.sorqvist@ 123456hig.se

                This article was submitted to Environmental Psychology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00823
                5987038
                29410639
                0e74469e-94c9-4099-91ee-b373769c04fc
                Copyright © 2018 Holmgren, Kabanshi, Marsh and Sörqvist.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                History
                : 28 February 2018
                : 07 May 2018
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 30, Pages: 6, Words: 0
                Categories
                Psychology
                Original Research

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                averaging bias,judgment,environmental impact,climate change,negative footprint illusion

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