It can't happen to me ... or can it? Conditional base rates affect subjective probability judgments

Academic Article


  • Young adults use general base-rate statistics (e.g., 50% of women get osteoporosis) to judge their own probability of experiencing an event, but most adjust their judgments downward because they reason that they have better than average characteristics (e.g., high calcium intake). The authors reduced downward adjustments by providing base rates that were conditionalized on a relevant factor (e.g., high vs. low calcium intake makes a woman's chance of getting osteoporosis 45% or 55%). A group given conditional base rates (CBRs) rather than a general base rate (GBR) made fewer downward adjustments and referred to the relevant conditional factor more often to explain their judgment. CBRs are more informative and more likely to be accepted than a GBR, and they may be more effective in educating the public.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Chandler CC; Robison LJ; Greening L; Stoppelbein L
  • Start Page

  • 361
  • End Page

  • 376
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • 4