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Friday, September 29, 2006

Possibly a worthwhile post

Here's another interesting spin on personal probability judgments.
Let's take the findings in the study below and extend them a bit.

If I say "you are possibly a genius", this can be taken as flattery and discounted.

If I say "you are possibly an asshole", then you are likely to think I really don't like you. Makes sense.

"PSYCHOLOGY: Saving Face
Gilbert J. Chin
It is well established that the perception of probabilities can be influenced by how a particular likelihood is framed or anchored, and that the consequences for a patient if the number qualifies a medical prognosis can be real and serious. Bonnefon and Villejoubert propose another context in which the diagnosis of a possible condition is not perceived to reflect its likelihood but instead is taken as warning of a dire outcome.

"Upon quizzing subjects ... after a physician had delivered an assessment of possible insomnia or deafness, they found that the condition regarded as more serious (deafness) was judged to be more likely to occur and that the use of the word possible was interpreted as a means of softening the news. In contrast, subjects who adhered to a probabilistic interpretation of the phrasing believed that both conditions were equally likely outcomes, underlining the importance of mutual understanding in phys ician-patient discussions. -- GJC"

Journal reference: Psychol. Sci. 17, 747 (2006).

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