Past research has demonstrated that interpretations of vague verbal forecasts (e.g., "likely") differ as a function of the context to which they refer. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrate that precise numeric forecasts (e.g., "70%") are also susceptible to such context effects. Participants read descriptions of target events and experts' numeric forecasts. Perceptions of certainty, expressed on nonnumeric scales, differed as a function of context manipulations. The results of Experiments 3a, 3b, and 4 indicate that these effects can be mediated by perceptions of an event's representativeness independently of subjective base rates. The results are also consistent with the idea that two types of semi-independent processing — associative and rule based — can have important influences on perceptions of certainty. Implications of this distinction for research on judgments and decisions under uncertainty are discussed.
Windschitl, P., and Elke Weber. "The interpretation of 'likely' depends on context, but '70' is — 70%, right? The influence of associative processes on perceived certainty." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 25 (1999): 1514-1533.
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