Gilovich, T. Seeing the past in the present: The effect of associations
to familiar events on judgement and decisions. JPSP, 1981, 40, 797-808.
"Associations to past experience and generic knowledge importantly
influence people's judgements and decisions"
When making decisions with uncertainity, we "liken new dilemmas to
past events" and use information and strategies from past experiences.
Reason by analogy is common in real-world decision making. However, going
beyond the situation to get information is fraught with potential effors
in inference and prediction.
Sportswriters judged hypothetical descriptions of college football players
and estimated their success in professional football. The experimenter
varied the extent and relevance of comparisons between the hypothetical
players and know professional stars. Sometimes the college/pro comparison
was relevant (same position), some not relevant (different position) or
completely irrelevant (same hometown, same number, etc.)
The results confirmed that people are influenced by associations with known
quantities, regardless of the relevancy in the comparison.
Similar to 1 with college coaches achieved the same results.
In this study people analyzed a hypthetical political foreign -policy crisis,
one versition with a reference to Munich (Germany), the other to Vietnam.
The results showed that people with the WWII version made more interventionist
recommendations than those with the Vietnam refrence (more hands-off recommendations).
People seem to rely on know scemas to process new information. In an uncertain
situation, unknown aspects of the current problem are "filled in"
from the old schema, which can be both useful and potantially misleading.