regression fallacy

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An erroneous interpretation of regression towards the mean as being caused by something other than chance. A frequently quoted example reported in 1973 by the Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman (born 1934) and Amos Tversky (1937–96) comes from the experience of flying instructors. Experienced instructors noticed that praise given to a trainee pilot for an exceptionally smooth landing was usually followed by a rougher landing on the following attempt, and harsh criticism for an unusually rough landing was usually followed by a smoother landing on the following attempt, and the instructors therefore came to believe that praise was not merely ineffective but counter-productive and that punishment was highly effective, whereas in reality an unusually smooth or rough landing is likely to be followed by a more average one because of regression towards the mean. The fallacy is usually explained by the use in judgements of this kind of the representativeness heuristic. Compare non-regressiveness bias.

Subjects: Psychology.

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