Memory and Representativeness
We explore the idea that judgment by representativeness reflects the workings of episodic memory, especially interference. In a new laboratory experiment on cued recall, participants are shown two groups of images with different distributions of colors. We find that i) decreasing the frequency of a given color in one group significantly increases the recalled frequency of that color in the other group, ii) for a fixed set of images, different cues for the same objective distribution entail different interference patterns and different probabilistic assessments. Selective retrieval and interference may offer a foundation for the representativeness heuristic, but more generally for understanding the formation of probability judgments from experienced statistical associations.
We thank Rahul Bhui, Ben Enke, Sam Gershman, Thomas Graeber, Joshua Schwartzstein, and seminar participants at Harvard University and MIT Sloan for helpful comments. Gennaioli thanks the European Research Council (GA 647782) for financial support. Schwerter and Shleifer thank the Sloan Foundation for financial support. The authors declare no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.