Thinking about low-probability events: An exemplar-cuing theory

Jonathan J. Koehler*, Laura Macchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The way people respond to the chance that an unlikely event will occur depends on how the event is described. We propose that people attach more weight to unlikely events when they can easily generate or imagine examples in which the event has occurred or will occur than when they cannot. We tested this idea in two experiments with mock jurors using written murder scenarios. The results suggested that jurors attach more weight to the defendant's claim that an incriminating DNA match is merely coincidental when it is easy for them to imagine other individuals whose DNA would also match than when it is not easy for them to imagine such individuals. We manipulated the difficulty of imagining such examples by varying the description of the DNA-match statistic. Some of the variations that influenced the jurors were normatively irrelevant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-546
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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