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The Mechanism of the Einstellung (Set) Effect: A Pervasive Source of Cognitive Bias

Merim Bilalić, Peter McLeod and Fernand Gobet
Current Directions in Psychological Science
Vol. 19, No. 2 (APRIL 2010), pp. 111-115
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41038551
Page Count: 5
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Mechanism of the Einstellung (Set) Effect: A Pervasive Source of Cognitive Bias
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Abstract

The eye movements of expert players trying to solve a chess problem show that the first idea that comes to mind directs attention toward sources of information consistent with it and away from inconsistent information. This bias continues unconsciously even when players believe they are looking for alternatives. The result is that alternatives to the first idea are ignored. This mechanism for biasing attention ensures a speedy response in familiar situations, but it can lead to errors when the first thought that comes to mind is not appropriate. We propose that this mechanism is the source of many cognitive biases, from phenomena in problem solving and reasoning to perceptual errors and failures in memory.

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