Laypeople do use sample variance: The effect of embedding data in a variance-implying story

Thinking and Reasoning 16 (1):26-44 (2010)
  Copy   BIBTEX


When using sample data to decide whether two populations differ, laypeople attend to the difference between group means, but largely overlook within-group variability (Obrecht, Chapman, & Gelman, 2007). We show, first, that laypeople know about and use story-implied variability when making pairwise comparisons. Then we demonstrate that participants' sensitivity to variance in a dataset is boosted when presented in a context that implies consistent variance information. Statistical data were couched in stories about electrical conductivity measurements obtained from element samples (low-variability category) or body weight measurements from samples of peoples (high-variability category). We manipulated, between participants, whether the data variance matched or mismatched the story-implied variability. Participants who received data in a matching context showed high sensitivity to variance, while those in the mismatching condition did not. Laypeople use statistical data to make reasonable inferences when those data are provided in a context that makes sense



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,377

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles


Added to PP

101 (#147,444)

6 months
1 (#866,649)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Marta Suarez
Rutgers University, New Brunswick

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references