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Volume 10 Issue 4 (2014)

The Equiprobability Bias from a Mathematical and Psychological Perspective original article

pp. 119-130 | First published on 5 December 2014 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0163-9

Nicolas Gauvrit, Kinga Morsanyi

Abstract

The equiprobability bias (EB) is a tendency to believe that every process in which randomness is involved corresponds to a fair distribution, with equal probabilities for any possible outcome. The EB is known to affect both children and adults, and to increase with probability education. Because it results in probability errors resistant to pedagogical interventions, it has been described as a deep misconception about randomness: the erroneous belief that randomness implies uniformity. In the present paper, we show that the EB is actually not the result of a conceptual error about the definition of randomness. On the contrary, the mathematical theory of randomness does imply uniformity. However, the EB is still a bias, because people tend to assume uniformity even in the case of events that are not random. The pervasiveness of the EB reveals a paradox: The combination of random processes is not necessarily random. The link between the EB and this paradox is discussed, and suggestions are made regarding educational design to overcome difficulties encountered by students as a consequence of the EB.

Keywords: equiprobability bias, subjective probability, complexity, randomness, uniformity

Gaining the Upper Hand: Evidence of Vertical Asymmetry in Sex-Categorisation of Human Hands original article

pp. 131-143 | First published on 31 December 2014 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0164-8

Genevieve L. Quek, Matthew Finkbeiner

Abstract

Visual perception is characterised by asymmetries arising from the brain’s preferential response to particular stimulus types at different retinal locations. Where the lower visual field (LVF) holds an advantage over the upper visual field (UVF) for many tasks (e.g., hue discrimination, contrast sensitivity, motion processing), face-perception appears best supported at above-fixation locations (Quek & Finkbeiner, 2014a). This finding is consistent with Previc’s (1990) suggestion that vision in the UVF has become specialised for object recognition processes often required in ”extrapersonal” space. Outside of faces, however, there have been very few investigations of vertical asymmetry effects for higher-level objects. Our aim in the present study was, thus, to determine whether the UVF advantage reported for face-perception would extend to a nonface object – human hands. Participants classified the sex of hand images presented above or below central fixation by reaching out to touch a left or right response panel. On each trial, a briefly presented spatial cue captured the participant’s spatial attention to either the location where the hand was about to appear (valid cue) or the opposite location (invalid cue). We observed that cue validity only modulated the efficiency of the sex-categorisation response for targets in the LVF and not the UVF, just as we have reported previously for face-sex categorisation (Quek & Finkbeiner, 2014a). Taken together, the data from these studies provide some empirical support for Previc’s (1990) speculation that object recognition processes may enjoy an advantage in the upper-hemifield.

Keywords: vertical asymmetry, upper visual field, lower visual field, attention, sex-categorisation, hands