BELIEF STATES: A PRELIMINARY EMPIRICAL STUDY
Technical documentary rept.
TUFTS UNIV MEDFORD MA
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The belief state, as a technique for describing beliefs, attitudes and judgments, is proposed here as an important adjunct to psychological research, especially in the areas of decision making by individuals and by groups. The belief state is defined as a device for representing in probabilistic form an exact quantitative description of the information or beliefs an individual has about possible alternative conditions of the external world. The present study investigates the feasibility of measuring belief states in a simple laboratory situation, and of ascertaining by various statistical tests the degree to which these empirical measures conform to the normative standard of a perfect Bayesian calculation. It is shown that Ss in general depart from the standard in certain properties that there are reliable individual differences among Ss belief state measures as an apparent result of increasing experience with the task. Several suggestions are offered for future investigations of these measures under more closely controlled conditions.