Improve your Werewolf Game: Spot Logical Fallacies Players Make
In the game of werewolf/mafia, players on the good side (also known as "townspeople", "townies", "townsfolk", "the village", "villagers") can fall victim to several common logical fallacies. Knowing what these fallacies are can help you to avoid making them in future and improve your deduction process when trying to figure out who is evil.
Players can make these logical errors in online versions of the game and face to face, although when playing any online version of a social deduction game, logical mistakes can be easier to spot as you have the written record and time to process the information. When you are playing games in person, it is easier for you to miss things as your memory may not hold onto all of the detail of the game.
Appeal to Authority
This is the belief that something is true because an authority figure or expert said it was true, without considering the evidence or reasoning behind their claim. For example, a townsperson might believe another player's accusation that someone is a werewolf because that player is considered to be an expert on the game, even if their accusation is not supported by evidence.
This is the belief that there are only two options or possibilities, when in fact there may be more. For example, a villager may be looking to categorise players as either a werewolf or not, and ignore the possibility that they could be a different role, such as the seer. In fact, players may read a village-aligned power role as "evil" because the player knows more about the game but is trying to hide it. The seer (sheriff) may have a check on a player who is under suspicion, knows they are good and is trying to nudge the village away from executing the player without revealing their role. To someone with no other information, this may look similar to wolves trying to safe their ally.
This is the tendency to do or believe something because many other people are doing or believing it. For example, a townsperson might vote to eliminate another player because they see many other townspeople voting to do so, even if they have doubts about their guilt.
This is not quite the same thing as an evil player joining in with an execution that favours their team without offering an explanation of their vote. Which is a useful piece of information to look for when searching for evil tells.
Confirmation bias is the mistake of accepting information that supports a player's existing theories whilst discarding other information that conflicts with the theories. For example, if Alice believes that Bob is a werewolf, she may agree and side with players that openly share her opinion and use their information or gut reads to support her belief of Bob's guilt. She may go as far as asking these players for more examples of Bob's guilt, but she will discredit or ignore information that disagrees with her theory.
Similar to the appeal to authority, the halo effect is is the tendency to judge something or someone based on one favourable characteristic, and to assume that other favorable characteristics must also be true. For example, a townsperson might assume that because another player is likable, funny or helpful, they must also be good at detecting werewolves (or must be on the good team).
False Consensus Effect
This fallacy is is the tendency to overestimate the extent to which other people agree with one's own beliefs or opinions. In a game of mafia, this can manifest in several ways.
- A player may believe that everyone has their level of knowledge and experience and is able to spot things as effectively as them
- Related to the above, a player may believe that others agree with their assessment of others behaviour as the truth, and therefore those that disagree are deliberately lying and thus must be mafia or werewolves
- A player may think that other players would use a role the same way that they would. This might be reflected in statements such as "the seer would never check Bob"
Just a Villager
This may not be a formal fallacy, but some players are far too quick to dismiss their role as being unimportant or low powered in terms of helping the village win the game. Without each villager/townie pulling their weight and adding to the discussion, the power roles may stand out to the wolves more clearly and so get picked off early before they are ready to reveal themselves. When the game gets to its final stages, it is often only lower powered roles or villagers that are left alive, and it is up to them to carry the village forward to victory.