Distribution of probability assessments for almanac and future event questions

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Abstract

This study examines the distribution and calibration of probability assessments given to general knowledge questions and question concerning future events. Two experiments revealed that: (1) People use certainty responses less frequently in response to questions concerning then-future events than to general knowledge questions even when the then-future event questions are easier than the general knowledge questions. (2) Indonesian students previously thought to have little grasp of probabilistic thinking, are able to give realistic probability assessments for then-future events. Cultural and task influences on our findings are discussed in relation to a procedural model of the processes involved in answering a question. We conclude that, as most applications of decision analysis involve future uncertainty, research in probability assessment should concentrate on questions concerning future events rather than on general knowledge questions.

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