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Calculate or wait: Is man an eager or a lazy intuitive statistician?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2013 (English)In: Journal of Cognitive Psychology, ISSN 2044-5911, E-ISSN 2044-592X, Vol. 25, no 8, 994-1014 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Research on people’s ability to act as intuitive statisticians has mainly focused on the accuracy of estimates of central tendency and variability. In this paper, we investigate two hypothesised cognitive processes by which people make judgements of distribution shape. The first claims that people spontaneously induce abstract representations of distribution properties from experience, including about distribution shape. The second process claims that people construct beliefs about distribution properties post hoc by retrieval from long-term memory of small samples from the distribution, implying format dependence with accuracy that differs depending on judgement format. Results from two experiments confirm the predicted format dependence, suggesting that people are often constrained by the post hoc assessment of distribution properties by sampling from long-term memory. The results, however, also suggest that, although post hoc sampling from memory seems to be the default process, under certain predictable circumstances people do induce abstract representations of distribution shape.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 25, no 8, 994-1014 p.
Keyword [en]
Intuitive statistics, Numerical cognition, Sampling model
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-209392DOI: 10.1080/20445911.2013.841170ISI: 000326868000009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-209392DiVA: diva2:657169
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2013-10-18 Created: 2013-10-18 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Is the Intuitive Statistician Eager or Lazy?: Exploring the Cognitive Processes of Intuitive Statistical Judgments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Is the Intuitive Statistician Eager or Lazy?: Exploring the Cognitive Processes of Intuitive Statistical Judgments
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Numerical information is ubiquitous and people are continuously engaged in evaluating it by means of intuitive statistical judgments. Much research has evaluated if people’s judgments live up to the norms of statistical theory but directed far less attention to the cognitive processes that underlie the judgments.

The present thesis outlines, compares, and tests two cognitive models for intuitive statistical judgments, summarized in the metaphors of the lazy and eager intuitive statistician. In short, the lazy statistician postpones judgments to the time of a query when the properties of a small sample of values retrieved from memory serve as proxies for population properties. In contrast, the eager statistician abstracts summary representations of population properties online from incoming data.

Four empirical studies were conducted. Study I outlined the two models and investigated whether an eager or a lazy statistician best describes how people make intuitive statistical judgments. In general the results supported the notion that people spontaneously engage in a lazy process. Under certain specific conditions, however, participants were able to induce abstract representations of the experienced data. Study II and Study III extended the models to describe naive point estimates (Study II) and inference about a generating distribution (Study III). The results indicated that both the former and the latter type of judgment was better described by a lazy than an eager model. Finally, Study IV, building on the support in Studies I-III, investigated boundary conditions for a lazy model by exploring if statistical judgments are influenced by common memory effects (primacy and recency). The results indicated no such effects, suggesting that the sampling from long-term memory in a lazy process is not conditional on when the data is encountered.

The present thesis makes two major contributions. First, the lazy and eager models are first attempts at outlining a process model that could possibly be applied for a large variety of statistical judgments. Second, because a lazy process imposes boundary conditions on the accuracy of statistical judgments, the results suggest that the limitations of a lazy intuitive statistician would need to be taken into consideration in a variety of situations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. 84 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 92
Keyword
Lazy intuitive statistician, Eager intuitive statistician, Intuitive statistics, Sampling model, Numerical cognition
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-211505 (URN)978-91-554-8827-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-02-07, Hörsal Betty Pettersson, Blåsenhus, von Kraemers Allé 1A, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-01-16 Created: 2013-11-25 Last updated: 2014-01-24

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Lindskog, MarcusWinman, AndersJuslin, Peter

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