An account of subjective probability judgment for joint events: Conjunctive and disjunctive

John E. Fisk, Dean A. Marshall, Paul Rogers, Rosemary Stock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Probability judgment is a vital part of many aspects of everyday life. In the present paper, we present a new theory of the way in which individuals produce probability estimates for joint events: conjunctive and disjunctive. We propose that a majority of individuals produce conjunctive (disjunctive) estimates by making a quasi-random adjustment, positive or negative, from the less (more) likely component probability with the other component playing no obvious role. In two studies, we produce evidence supporting propositions that follow from our theory. First, the component probabilities do appear to play the distinct roles we propose in determining the joint event probabilities. Second, contrary to probability theory and other accounts of probability judgment, we show that the conjunctive-less likely probability difference is unrelated to the more likely disjunctive probability difference (in normative theory these quantities are identical). In conclusion, while violating the norms of probability judgment, we argue that estimates produced in the manner we propose will be close enough to the normative values especially given the changing nature of the external environment and the incomplete nature of available information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-420
Number of pages16
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Conjunction
  • disjunction
  • fallacy
  • probability judgment


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