Scandinavian Working Papers in Business Administration

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 2002:9: The distortion of beliefs in the face of uncertainty

Lennart Sjöberg ()
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Lennart Sjöberg: Department of Economic Psychology, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Judgements and beliefs often are distorted. They are affected by underlying values and reflect strong tendencies toward wishful thinking. In action, biased thinking may or may not be detrimental, and there is a very delicate balance to keep between the need to motivate oneself for forceful action, and to keep a realistic view of the possibilities of success. People encounter problems, calling for thought and the formation of constructs, only rather rarely, but when they do they tend to be in an unpleasant emotional state. Uncertainty is one such state, in which one encounters difficult problems and expects little success.

Keywords: thought biases; heuristics; judgement; decision making

30 pages, May 2002

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