Are all data created equal? - Exploring some boundary conditions for a lazy intuitive statistician

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Abstract

The study investigated potential effects of the presentation order of numeric information on retrospective subjective judgments of descriptive statistics of this information. The studies were theoretically motivated by the assumption in the naïve sampling model of independence between temporal encoding order of data in long-term memory and retrieval probability (i.e. as implied by a "random sampling" from memory metaphor). In Experiment 1, participants experienced Arabic numbers that varied in distribution shape/variability between the first and the second half of the information sequence. Results showed no effects of order on judgments of mean, variability or distribution shape. To strengthen the interpretation of these results, Experiment 2 used a repeated judgment procedure, with an initial judgment occurring prior to the change in distribution shape of the information half-way through data presentation. The results of Experiment 2 were in line with those from Experiment 1, and in addition showed that the act of making explicit judgments did not impair accuracy of later judgments, as would be suggested by an anchoring and insufficient adjustment strategy. Overall, the results indicated that participants were very responsive to the properties of the data while at the same time being more or less immune to order effects. The results were interpreted as being in line with the naïve sampling models in which values are stored as exemplars and sampled randomly from long-term memory.

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Lindskog, M., & Winman, A. (2014). Are all data created equal? - Exploring some boundary conditions for a lazy intuitive statistician. PLoS ONE, 9(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0097686

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