SAGE Journal Articles
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Gigerenzer, G., Gaissmaier, W., Kurz-Milcke, E., Schwartz, L. M., & Woloshin, S. (2007). Helping doctors and patients make sense of health statistics. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 8, 53-96.
Many doctors, patients, journalists, and politicians alike do not understand what health statistics mean or draw wrong conclusions without noticing. Collective statistical illiteracy refers to the widespread inability to understand the meaning of numbers. For instance, many citizens are unaware that higher survival rates with cancer screening do not imply longer life, or that the statement that mammography screening reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer by 25% in fact means that 1 less woman out of 1,000 will die of the disease. We provide evidence that statistical illiteracy (a) is common to patients, journalists, and physicians; (b) is created by nontransparent framing of information that is sometimes an unintentional result of lack of understanding but can also be a result of intentional efforts to manipulate or persuade people; and (c) can have serious consequences for health.
Accuracy of recall of the number of sexual partners individuals had over a period of one month, three months, six months and one year was studied in a group of 285 young, single, heterosexual adults. Self-reports of the number of partners were obtained on a weekly basis and then compared with recall of behavior over longer time periods that overlapped the weekly measures. For individuals who claimed abstinence or who claimed to be monogamous, accuracy of recall was relatively high, especially at the shorter time frames. Level of education was related to accuracy for claimed abstainers, such that lower levels of education were associated with lower accuracy of recall. Accuracy rates for individuals who reported having multiple sexual partners tended to be lower and were found to be related to one’s propensity to engage in casual sex.
Defining “emotion” is a notorious problem. Without consensual conceptualization and operationalization of exactly what phenomenon is to be studied, progress in theory and research is difficult to achieve and fruitless debates are likely to proliferate. A particularly unfortunate example is William James’s asking the question “What is an emotion?” when he really meant “feeling”, a misnomer that started a debate which is still ongoing, more than a century later. This contribution attempts to sensitize researchers in the social and behavioral sciences to the importance of definitional issues and their consequences for distinguishing related but fundamentally different affective processes, states, and traits. Links between scientific and folk concepts of emotion are explored and ways to measure emotion and its components are discussed.