Behavioral and Brain Sciences

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2009), 32:521-522 Cambridge University Press
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Open Peer Commentary

On the adaptive advantage of always being right (even when one is not)

Nathalia L. Gjersoea1 and Bruce M. Hooda1

a1 Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TU, United Kingdom.
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We propose another positive illusion – overconfidence in the generalisability of one's theory – that fits with McKay & Dennett's (M&D's) criteria for adaptive misbeliefs. This illusion is pervasive in adult reasoning but we focus on its prevalence in children's developing theories. It is a strongly held conviction arising from normal functioning of the doxastic system that confers adaptive advantage on the individual.

The evolution of misbelief Ryan T. McKay and Daniel C. Dennett Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, University of Zurich, Zurich 8006, Switzerland; and Centre for Anthropology and Mind, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6PE, United Kingdom; The Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155-7059