Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Information generally comes from less than fully reliable sources. Rationality, it seems, requires that one take source reliability into account when reasoning on the basis of such information. Recently, Bovens and Hartmann (2003) proposed an account of the conjunction fallacy based on this idea. They show that, when statements in conjunction fallacy scenarios are perceived as coming from such sources, probability theory prescribes that the "fallacy" be committed in certain situations. Here, the empirical validity of their model was assessed. The model predicts that statements added to standard conjunction problems will change the incidence of the fallacy. It also predicts that statements from reliable sources should yield an increase in fallacy rates (relative to unreliable sources). Neither the former (Experiment 1) nor the latter prediction (Experiment 3) was confirmed, although Experiment 2 showed that people can derive source reliability estimates from the likelihood of statements in a manner consistent with the tested model. In line with the experimental results, model fits and sensitivity analyses also provided very little evidence in favor of the model. This suggests that Bovens and Hartmann's present model fails to explain fully people's judgements in standard conjunction fallacy tasks.

Original publication




Journal article


Cogn Sci

Publication Date





682 - 711


Association, Bayes Theorem, Decision Making, Humans, Judgment, Models, Theoretical, Probability, Problem Solving, Psycholinguistics, Reproducibility of Results, Semantics