Motivated Numeracy : How People Interpret Statistics About Gender Differences
Bleske-Rechek, April L.
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Numeric problems, like those shown in the 2x2 matrices to the right, require people to calculate two proportions and then compare the proportions in order to get the correct answer. In general, thinking in terms of proportions and probabilities tends to be difficult for people, so problems that require calculation and comparison of two proportions tend to be even more difficult. They often evoke an automatic, heuristic-based (“Type I”) – but incorrect – response that must be overridden in order to answer correctly. Typically, people who score higher on general numeracy problems are better able to reason analytically, and override their Type I processing response, to get the correct response in these 2x2 matrices. However, research has shown that when people interpret numbers on topics, they have a strong bias about, their ideological bias can trump their ability to reason carefully about the data. That is, general numeracy abilities only predict people’s ability to inhibit their intuitive response to a 2x2 matrix problem when the actual correct answer fits their beliefs about how the world works. In the current study, we investigate this phenomenon in the context of a 2x2 matrix with numbers about men and women preferred work-family roles.