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[JDM] Comments on Qs 1, 3 & 4

I have now graded all of questions 1 and 3 and most of questions 4.

In general people are doing very well.  For most questions it is clear
whether people "got it" or not (and in most cases people got
it).  Sometimes people did take a "shot-gun" approach and as noted in
the instructions, I did take off for that.  But for the most part, most of
you focused your answers appropriately.


With question 3 (which few of you did) most answers were very good. But
there was a common confusion in some of them.  Some got that there was
missing information, but didn't realize that it has nothing to do with
alcoholics, but should only be the number of insane and sane off-spring
from sane families.


With question 1 all but one of you got the main point of seeking
confirmatory information.  And a few of you even linked that correctly to
representativeness (more of you mentioned representative, but not in a way
that actually makes sense in the case).  One common error (for which I did
take off a couple points) was that people treated the ordering of
information given about parent B as important for the question.  It might
bias people in favour of parent B that the positive information about B was
top of the list, but that bias should apply equally in the "award" and the
"deny" case.  So that sort of bias from the ordering should make no

One person did point out that if information about B is always presented
second, than recency should bias toward B.  That is a good minor
observation beside the main point of confirmatory bias.

A surprising number of you discussed in addition to getting the main point
whether a high income should be considered a positive thing toward a
parent.  While we can argue about that, that was not actually relevant to
the problem (which was the apparent contradiction of selected (b) in both
cases.  Since whatever people believe about that, it should cancel itself
out between the two forms of the question.

One person appears to have missed the point of the question.

A similar aside was that some of you considered "Active Social Life" as a
good point, and others as a bad point.


Only two people even came close to observing that under utilitarianism
(assuming we treat people as individuals and not as couples with one
waiting for the other) the optimal solution would be to have more mens
toilets!  (again assuming that all are fully used and that there is some
queue for each).

One of you -- quite remarkably -- did notice the utilitarian argument, but
claimed that it was only true if it was controllable behaviour on behalf of
women which made them be less efficient users of toilets!  You didn't
notice that the same utilitarian argument holds even if women aren't at
fault for taking longer in toilets.  But that is an equity issue not a
utilitarian one.  The utilitarian one should stay the same.

A large number of you went into a discussion of procedural vs distributive
justice for this problem.  But that is not relevant to it at all.

Several of you confused "need" based and "utilitarian" principles, often
by using the word "utilitarian" but describing "need".  While in this case
they argue for contradictory things (need for more toilets for women;
utility for more for men).

Only very few of you noticed that equality can be in terms of equality of
toilets or equality of waiting time.

In general scores for this Q4 were quite low, but because they are high
for the other two so far graded, I think that most of you will do just
fine.  And besides, I'm sure that you will all make it up on the prospect
theory question.

The lesson for me as a teacher for Q4 is that I shouldn't trust to
required reading, but must actually discuss these things in lecture.  An
example logically identical to the toilet case (though simpler due to
artificiality) was in the reading, but not discussed in class.

Anyway, so far almost all of you are doing very well despite the failure
to get Q4.  (PS, if anyone tries to argue that I should grade more
leniently for Q4, then by the same rule I should grade more harshly on the
questions most people scored very highly on.)

Best wishes,


Livia Markoczy                              | Cranfield School of Management
L.Markoczy@Cranfield.ac.uk                  | +44 (0)1234 751 122 (x3757)
http://www.cranfield.ac.uk/public/mn/mn795/ | FAX: +44 (0)1234 750070