Informal conceptions of probability

Konold, C.
59 - 98
Cognition and Instruction

A model of informal reasoning under conditions of uncertainty, the outcome approach, was developed to account for the non-normative responses of a subset of the 16 undergraduates who were interviewed. For individuals who reason according to the outcome approach, the goal in questions of uncertainty is to predict the outcome of an individual trial. Their predictions take the form of yes/no decisions of whether an outcome will occur on a particular trial. These predictions are then evaluated as having been either "right" or "wrong". Additionally, their predictions are often based on a deterministic model of the situation. In follow-up interviews using a different set of problems, responses of outcome-oriented subjects were predicted. In one problem, subjects' responses were at variance both with normative interpretations of probability and with the "representativeness heuristic". While the outcome approach is inconsistent with formal theories of probability, its components are logically consistent and reasonable in the context of everyday decision-making.

The CAUSE Research Group is supported in part by a member initiative grant from the American Statistical Association’s Section on Statistics and Data Science Education