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Comparing the Calibration and Coherence of Numerical and Verbal Probability Judgments

  • Thomas S. Wallsten

    (Department of Psychology, CB# 3270, Davie Hall, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3270)

  • David V. Budescu

    (Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois 61820)

  • Rami Zwick

    (Department of Marketing, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802-9976)

Despite the common reliance on numerical probability estimates in decision research and decision analysis, there is considerable interest in the use of verbal probability expressions to communicate opinion. A method is proposed for obtaining and quantitatively evaluating verbal judgments in which each analyst uses a limited vocabulary that he or she has individually selected and scaled. An experiment compared this method to standard numerical responding under three different payoff conditions. Response mode and payoff never interacted. Probability scores and their components were virtually identical for the two response modes and for all payoff groups. Also, judgments of complementary events were essentially additive under all conditions. The two response modes differed in that the central response category was used more frequently in the numerical than the verbal case, while overconfidence was greater verbally than numerically. Response distributions and degrees of overconfidence were also affected by payoffs. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.39.2.176
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Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 39 (1993)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 176-190

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:39:y:1993:i:2:p:176-190
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