Estimation ana Prediction
We cannot regard an action as rational unless it computes the probabilities.
—Hacking (1987b, p. 52)
In the preceding chapters, much attention has been given to a variety of topics relating to probability theory and statistics and relatively little to the results of research on how, and how well, people think about probabilistic matters. The results of some research have been discussed, but empirical studies have not been the major focus. Beginning with this chapter, attention shifts to research, its results, and the interpretations those results have been given.
Probabilistic or statistical reasoning has been studied in a variety of contexts including clinical diagnosis (Meehl, 1954), management decision making (R. V. Brown, Kahr, & C. R. Peterson, 1974), flood probability estimation by flood plain residents (Slovic, Kunreuther, & White, 1974), experimental design (Brewer & Owen, 1973), weather forecasting (Murphy & Winkler, 1974, 1977), climate change (National Academy of Sciences, 1983), accident analysis (C. H. Green & R. A. Brown, 1978; Slovic, Fischhoff, & Lichtenstein, 1978), election outcome predictions (Black, 1958; I. Fischer & Budescu, 1994), among many others. The review of this research here is not intended to be exhaustive, but it is extensive and the studies considered are intended to be broadly representative of the work in the field.