Inverse statistics and misperception of exponential growth

Han Timmers, W.A. Wagenaar

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Abstract

Exponential growth presented by numerical series or graphs is grossly underestimated by human subjects. This misperception was considerably lessened by presenting decreasing functions; this conclusion holds for both numeric and graphic stimuli. In the numerical conditions, about 25% of the subjects performed according to the statistical norm. In contrast with previous results, considerable individual differences with respect to sensitivity for rate of growth were observed. This finding was interpreted in terms of task difficulty: Extrapolation of ascending series is too difficult a task to be discriminative. Extrapolation of descending series is much easier, and may therefore better discriminate among subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-562
JournalPerception & Psychophysics
Volume21
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1977
Externally publishedYes

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