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

Nathan F. Dieckmann, Robin Gregory, Ellen Peters, Robert Hartman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    13 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    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)
    Pages (from-to)471-486
    Number of pages16
    JournalRisk Analysis
    Volume37
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Mar 2017

    Keywords

    • Motivated reasoning
    • risk communication
    • uncertainty
    • worldviews

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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