Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

The motivated use and neglect of base rates

Eric Luis Uhlmanna1, Victoria L. Brescolla1 and David Pizarroa2

a1 Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520

a2 Department of Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.


Ego-justifying, group-justifying, and system-justifying motivations contribute to base-rate respect. People tend to neglect (and use) base rates when doing so allows them to draw desired conclusions about matters such as their health, the traits of their in-groups, and the fairness of the social system. Such motivations can moderate whether people rely on the rule-based versus associative strategies identified by Barbey & Sloman (B&S).

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