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Quick brain teaser to stretch (and retrain) your mind


This is Ellen, a sin­gle and bright woman. When she was a stu­dent —in high school and in col­lege too— Ellen was deeply involved in envi­ron­men­tal issues, and also par­tic­i­pat­ed in social jus­tice protests.

Now it’s 2019, and Ellen is 31-year-old.

Ques­tion: Which of the fol­low­ing state­ments are more prob­a­ble regard­ing Ellen’s occu­pa­tion today, and in what order?

A) Ellen is a bank teller;

B) Ellen works as a TV reporter;

C) Ellen is a bank teller at a small com­mu­ni­ty bank; she remains active fight­ing cli­mate change.


Quick, what’s your answer? In what order would you rank those 3 options?



First of all, ignore how you ranked B), as it is not rel­e­vant to this brain teas­er, it was there to dis­tract you.

What mat­ters is this: If you ranked C) as more prob­a­ble than A), you are wrong … and in good com­pa­ny, as this is a com­mon cog­ni­tive bias (also called “con­junc­tion fal­la­cy” as researched by Tver­sky and Kah­ne­man).

By def­i­n­i­tion, it is more prob­a­ble that Ellen is a bank teller than she is to meet these 3 con­di­tions at the same time: 1) she is a bank teller AND 2) at a small com­mu­ni­ty bank AND 3) she remains active in the envi­ron­men­tal move­ment.


For more fun and quick brain teasers:

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Categories: Brain Teasers, Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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