Abstract

Winman, A., Juslin, P., Lindskog, M., Nilsson, H., & Kerimi, N. (2014) The role of ANS-acuity and Numeracy for the calibration and the coherence of subjective probability judgments Frontiers in Psychology, 5:851.



The purpose of the study was to investigate how numeracy and acuity of the approximate number system (ANS) relate to the calibration and coherence of probability judgments. Based on the literature on number cognition, a first hypothesis was that those with lower numeracy would maintain a less linear use of the probability scale, contributing to overconfidence and nonlinear calibration curves. A second hypothesis was that also poorer acuity of the ANS would be associated with overconfidence and non-linearity. A third hypothesis, in line with dual-systems theory (e.g., Kahneman and Frederick, 2002) was that people higher in numeracy should have better access to the normative probability rules, allowing them to decrease the rate of conjunction fallacies. Data from 213 participants sampled from the Swedish population showed that: (i) in line with the first hypothesis, overconfidence and the linearity of the calibration curves were related to numeracy, where people higher in numeracy were well calibrated with zero overconfidence. (ii) ANS was not associated with overconfidence and non-linearity, disconfirming the second hypothesis. (iii) The rate of conjunction fallacies was slightly, but to a statistically significant degree decreased by numeracy, but still high at all numeracy levels. An unexpected finding was that participants with better ANS acuity gave more realistic estimates of their performance relative to others.