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The Role of General Mental Ability and Knowledge in Susceptibility to Cognitive Biases and Heuristics Open Access

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The purpose of this study is to explore the nature of rationality within the personnel selection context. Decision makers in the personnel selection context often prefer to use their own judgment rather than mechanical methods of combining predictor information (Highhouse, 2008; Kuncel et al., 2013). However, the use of human judgment alone when making selection decisions has been shown to have a much lower predictive validity than when using mechanical scoring as well, reducing the number of correct hiring decisions (Kuncel et al., 2013). The lower predictive validity is likely due to the flawed nature of human judgment and decision-making. When making judgments in uncertain contexts, individuals use a variety of intuitive, cognitive shortcuts or heuristics, often leading to poor or biased decisions (Gilovich & Griffin, 2002; Nisbett, Krantz, Jepson, & Kunda, 2002). That is, decisions that deviate from normative, rational standards. Researchers have suggested that there may be an individual difference construct, rationality, that explains variance in resistance to cognitive biases and heuristics (Bruine de Bruin et al, 2007; NRC, 2015; Stanovich, 2009; Stanovich & West, 2008). However, it is unclear whether rationality is a skill or stable disposition. It is hypothesized that general mental ability and knowledge are precursors to rationality. If this hypothesis is supported, it will provide evidence that rationality is not necessarily a new, unique construct but rather a skill that can be acquired. Findings will have important implications for both theory and practice. Results could be used to inform organizational interventions to improve decision-making. Findings will also expand our understanding of judgment and decision-making processes.

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