Cognitive Models and Problem Spaces in "Purely Random" Situations


Book: 
Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Teaching Statistics
Authors: 
Lecoutre, M. P.
Editors: 
The National Organizing Committee of the ICOTS 4
Category: 
Volume: 
1
Pages: 
41-48
Year: 
1994
Publisher: 
The National Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics
Place: 
Rabat, Morocco
Abstract: 

As part of a study on the natural interpretations of probability, experiments about elementary "purely random" situations (with dice of poker chips) were carried out using students of various backgrounds in the theory of probability. A prior study on cognitive models which analyzed the individual data of more than 600 subjects had shown that the most frequent model used is based on the following incorrect argument: the results to compare are equiprobable because it's a matter of chance; thus, random events are thought to be equiprobable "by nature". In the present paper, the following two hypotheses are tested: 1) Despite their incorrect model, subjects are able to find the correct response. 2) They are more likely to do so when the "chance" aspect of the situation has been masked. An experiment testing 87 students showed, as expected, that there is a way to induce the utilization of an appropriate cognitive model. However, the transfer of this model to a classical random situation is not as frequent as one might expect.

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