Seeing What You Want to See: How Imprecise Uncertainty Ranges Enhance Motivated Reasoning

Nathan Dieckmann, Robin Gregory, Ellen Peters, Robert Hartman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    9 Scopus citations


    In this article, we consider a novel criterion for evaluating representations of uncertainty ranges, namely, the extent to which a representation enhances motivated reasoning. In two studies, we show that perceptions of the distribution underlying ambiguous numerical ranges are affected by the motivations and worldviews of end users. This motivated reasoning effect remained after controlling for objective numeracy and fluid intelligence but was attenuated when the correct interpretation was made clear. We suggest that analysts and communicators explicitly consider the potential for motivated evaluation when evaluating uncertainty displays.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalRisk Analysis
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016



    • Motivated reasoning
    • Risk communication
    • Uncertainty
    • Worldviews

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
    • Physiology (medical)

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