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 (amazon.com 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
cause.

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