Selective Numeracy: Effects of Numeracy, Popular-Science Reports and Personal Experience on Data-Based Decision

AbstractIn the current research, we investigated whether numeracy, scientific reports in the popular press, and personal experience were associated with people’s data-based decision making. We collected data from English-speaking adult participants (N = 187), residing in the United States and Canada, who were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk and completed the online study. Results showed that participants with higher numeracy were more likely to make the correct data-based decision. However, participants used their numeracy selectively. They seemed to use their numeracy skills to confirm their own desire rather than to objectively evaluate the data or confirm reported scientific findings. No significant association was found between personal experience and data-based decision making. Future research may examine decision making across other, general-life domains to examine the replicability of the current results.

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