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Research

  • The purpose of the present study was to identify the areas in graphical representations that elementary teachers fixated on, as well as, their alternative conceptions of several statistical concepts. The specific research questions were: 1) What features of a line plot and histogram do elementary teachers fixate on when interpreting data? 2) What alternative conceptions do elementary teachers have about center or middle of the data, typical, and prediction when interpreting graphical representations of data?

  • One primary goal of TEACH-STAT (a three-year project funded by the National Science Foundation) is to help elementary school teachers in North Carolina learn how to teach data analysis and interpretation more effectively, that is, learn the pedagogy of statistics. In Spring 1992, the first cohort of 55, K-6 teachers completed a baseline survey of their knowledge of statistics pedagogy; these teachers then participated in a three-week workshop in summer 1992. At the outset, teachers seemed to (a) have limited views of what should be taught in order for students to understand data interpretation, (b) emphasize isolated bits of knowledge, mainly about graphing, and (c) have little knowledge of pedagogy for important ideas. At the conclusion of the workshop, teachers' views of statistics seemed to have shifted more toward a holistic view of statistics content, with accompanying increases in knowledge of particular pedagogical strategies to address the components of statistics understanding.

  • In this paper, we explore the rules that determine intuitive predictions and judgments of confidence and contrast these rules to the normative principles of statistical prediction.

  • Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have proposed that when judging the probability of some uncertain event people often resort to heuristics, or rulers of thumb, which are less than perfectly correlated (if, indeed, at all) with the variables that actually determine the event's probability. One such heuristic is representativeness, defined as a subjective judgment of the extent to which the event in question "is similar in essential properties to its parent population" or "reflects the salient features of the process by which is is generated" (Kahneman & Tversky, 1972b, p. 431, 3). Although in some cases more probable events also appear more representative, and vice versa, reliance on the representativeness of an event as an indicator of its probability may introduce two kinds of systematic error into the judgment. First, it may give undue influence to variables that effect the representativeness of an event but not its probability. Second, it may reduce the importance of variables that are crucial to determining the event's probability but are unrelated to the event's representativeness.

  • The first part of this chapter is concerned with the nature of the representativeness relation and and also with the conditions on which the concept of representativeness is usefully invoked to explain intuitive predictions and judgments of probability. In the second part of the chapter we illustrate the contrast between the logic of representativeness and the logic of probability in judgments of the likelihood.

  • In the pages that follow we review the evidence showing that there is little support for the view that people utilize consensus information in making attributions. This evidence concerns both instances where the actor is another person and instances, drawn primarily from our own research, where the actor is the self. We then show the similarity between the failure of consensus information to affect attributions and the demonstration by Kahneman and Tversky that base-rate information fails to affect predictions. We propose explanations for both failures in terms of the relative impact of abstract information versus concrete information. Finally, we apply the distinction between abstract and concrete information to questions of communication and persuasion.

  • We propose that when faced with the difficult task of judging probability or frequency, people employ a limited number of heuristics which reduce these judgments to simpler ones. Elsewhere we have analyzed in detail one such heuristic - representativeness. By this heuristic, an event is judged probable to the extent that it represents the essential features of its parent population or generating process...

  • The purpose of the current research was to assess whether egocentric perceptions do occur in a variety of settings and to examine associated psychological processes.

  • We shall argue that assessments of propensity and probability derived from mental simulations are used in several tasks of judgment and also that they play a significant role in several affective states. We first list some judgmental activities in which mental simulation appears to be involved. We then describe a study of the cognitive rules that govern the mental undoing of past events, and we briefly discuss the implications of these rules for emotions that arise when reality is compared with a favored alternative, which one had failed to reach but could easily imagine reaching. We conclude this brief sketch of the simulation heuristic by some remarks on scenarios, and on the biases that are likely to arise when this heuristic is used.

  • The core of this chapter is a review of studies that can be construed as efforts to reduce two familiar biases, hindsight and overconfidence.

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