Hypothesis testing as risk behaviour with regard to beliefs

Fenna H. Poletiek, Mariëtte Berndsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper hypothesis-testing behaviour is compared to risk-taking behaviour. It is proposed that choosing a suitable test for a given hypothesis requires making a preposterior analysis of two aspects of such a test: the probability of obtaining supporting evidence and the evidential value of this evidence. This consideration resembles the one a gambler makes when choosing among bets, each having a probability of winning and an amount to be won. A confirmatory testing strategy can be defined within this framework as a strategy directed at maximizing either the probability or the value of a confirming outcome. Previous theories on testing behaviour have focused on the human tendency to maximize the probability of a confirming outcome. In this paper, two experiments are presented in which participants tend to maximize the confirming value of the test outcome. Motivational factors enhance this tendency dependent on the context of the testing situation. Both this result and the framework are discussed in relation to other studies in the field of testing behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-123
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Confirmation bias
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Risk-taking


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