The Interpretation of "Likely" Depends on the Context, but "70%" Is 70% - Right? the Influence of Associative Processes on Perceived Certainty

Paul D. Windschitl, Elke U. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

80 Scopus citations

Abstract

Past research has demonstrated that interpretations of vague verbal forecasts (e.g., "likely") differ as a function of the context to which they refer. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrate that precise numeric forecasts (e.g., "70%") are also susceptible to such context effects. Participants read descriptions of target events and experts' numeric forecasts. Perceptions of certainty, expressed on nonnumeric scales, differed as a function of context manipulations. The results of Experiments 3a, 3b, and 4 indicate that these effects can be mediated by perceptions of an event's representativeness independently of subjective base rates. The results are also consistent with the idea that two types of semi-independent processing -associative and rule based - can have important influences on perceptions of certainty. Implications of this distinction for research on judgments and decisions under uncertainty are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1514-1533
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Volume25
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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