Monday, October 01, 2007

Representativeness bias

This week's AMNews, the newsletter of the American Medical Association, includes an excerpt from Dr. Jerome Groopman's book How Doctors Think ( book info). The excerpt discusses a case of missed diagnosis of cardiac disease in a healthy man and gives a great example of the representativeness heuristic in clinical decision-making.

Groopman notes of the case and how it illustrates this kind of bias:
The mistake Croskerry made is called a representativeness error: your
thinking is guided by a prototype, so you fail to consider possibilities that
contradict the prototype and thus attribute the symptoms to the wrong

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