Prediction-comprehension bias: Successful prediction can promote an illusory sense of comprehension

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We propose that individuals mistakenly interpret their success in predicting an event as an indication that they understand the underlying mechanism or process. In four experiments, we demonstrate this prediction-comprehension bias (PCB) and identify three factors that contribute to it: The feedback participants receive about their prediction accuracy (Experiment 1), the consistency with which an effect follows from a cause (Experiment 2), and the fluency of an observation brought about by its repetition (Experiment 3). In Experiment 4, we investigate an underlying mechanism: reverse inference. Respondents use the perceived validity of inferring prediction from comprehension (a reasonable inference) as an indicator that they can make the reverse inference (i.e., inferring comprehension from prediction, which is less reasonable).
Ryan Watkins