Is probabilistic cognition universal?

An interesting paper by Laura Fontanari, Michel Gonzalez, Giorgio Vallortigara, and Vittorio Girotto: "Probabilistic cognition in two indigenous Mayan groups", forthcoming in PNAS. Preprint available here.

Abstract: "Is there a sense of chance shared by all individuals, regardless of their schooling or culture? To test whether the ability to make correct probabilistic evaluations depends on educational and cultural guidance, we investigated probabilistic cognition in preliterate and prenumerate Kaqchikel and K’iche’, two indigenous Mayan groups, living in remote areas of Guatemala. Although the tested individuals had no formal education, they performed correctly in tasks in which they had to consider prior and posterior information, proportions and combinations of possibilities. Their performance was indistinguishable from that of Mayan school children and Western controls. Our results provide evidence for the universal nature of probabilistic cognition."




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