Probabilistic reasoning under time pressure: An assessment in Italian, Spanish and English psychology undergraduates

M. Agus, P. K. Hitchcott, M. P. Penna, M. Peró-Cebollero, J. Guardia-Olmos

Research output: Contribution to JournalConference Articlepeer-review


Many studies have investigated the features of probabilistic reasoning developed in relation to different formats of problem presentation, showing that it is affected by various individual and contextual factors. Incomplete understanding of the identity and role of these factors may explain the inconsistent evidence concerning the effect of problem presentation format. Thus, superior performance has sometimes been observed for graphically, rather than verbally, presented problems. The present study was undertaken to address this issue. Psychology undergraduates without any statistical expertise (N = 173 in Italy; N = 118 in Spain; N = 55 in England) were administered statistical problems in two formats (verbal-numerical and graphical-pictorial) under a condition of time pressure. Students also completed additional measures indexing several potentially relevant individual dimensions (statistical ability, statistical anxiety, attitudes towards statistics and confidence). Interestingly, a facilitatory effect of graphical presentation was observed in the Italian and Spanish samples but not in the English one. Significantly, the individual dimensions predicting statistical performance also differed between the samples, highlighting a different role of confidence. Hence, these findings confirm previous observations concerning problem presentation format while simultaneously highlighting the importance of individual dimensions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number012042
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physics: Conference Series
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


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