Anecdotal, statistical, and causal evidence: Their perceived and actual persuasiveness

Argumentation 15 (4):425-437 (2001)
Claims about the occurrence of future events play an important role in pragmatic argumentation. Such claims can be supported by inductive arguments employing anecdotal, statistical, or causal evidence. In an experiment, the actual and perceived persuasiveness of these three types of evidence were assessed. A total of 324 participants read a newspaper article in which it was claimed that the building of a cultural centre would be profitable. This claim was supported by either anecdotal, statistical or causal evidence. The statistical evidence proved to be more convincing than the anecdotal and causal evidence. Although the latter two evidence types were equally unconvincing, the anecdotal evidence was perceived as less persuasive than the causal evidence. Therefore, the actual and perceived persuasiveness of the evidence did not correspond. These results partly replicate the results obtained in previous experiments. They also underscore the need to distinguish between the perceived and the actual persuasiveness of an argument
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DOI 10.1023/A:1012075630523
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