Jumping to Conclusions Bias, Delusions and Decisions.

Jumping to Conclusions Bias, Delusions and Decisions.

In everyday life we often rely on ‘short-cuts’ to make quick and speedy decisions, these ‘short-cuts’ in psychology are called heuristics. Heuristics take many shapes and forms, they for example enable the user to make quick decision during a game of poker or simply turning to the left into another street whilst driving. One of the best known decisions is the jumping to conclusions bias (JTC) which allows one to make quick decisions without having all the facts.

 
Interestingly, a considerable amount of previous research has found that 70% of people whom suffer from delusions use the JTC bias often. Several researchers have suggested that hasty decision making is a pre-disposing factor for the development of delusions. Psychiatric conditions with delusions include the well known medical condition schizophrenia.

 
A recent piece of research conducted in China investigated the links between the JTC bias, delusions and decision making. The study compared healthy participants with persons with schizophrenia and utilised a series of questionnaires for psychological measures, and a computer based bead guessing test were participants were required to guess how many beads were in a jar. In previous research the ‘bead task’ has been a popular test that can be used to induce the JTC bias for study.

 
The results of the study from China indicate that the healthy control group (non-clinical / no delusions) displayed a higher percentage of JTC bias decisions than the clinical group on easy versions of the bead task. Meanwhile, when the jar of beads was altered so that it was harder to make an exact judgement about the number of coloured beads in the jar the clinical group used hastier data gathering techniques than the controls but did not have any significant difference in the utilisation the JTC bias.

 
This study shows that the relationship between heuristics and delusions in decision making may be more complicated than many researchers had first expected. The study shows that although there is a link between delusions and the JTC bias it is not linear as some people would expect. The exact nature of how we employ heuristics in everyday life for making decisions still needs a lot of research in the academic community.

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Daniel Edgcumbe

I am studying towards my PhD in cognitive neuroscience at a leading London university

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