Karl Halvor Teigen

Karl Halvor Teigen
University of Oslo · Department of Psychology

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143
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Publications

Publications (143)
Article
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Recent research has shown that when people combine verbal probabilistic forecasts from two sources, they are not simply averaged but can reinforce each other; so when two advisors both said an event was “rather likely,” some listeners concluded that the event was “quite likely”. Conversely, when both said the event was “rather unlikely,” people con...
Article
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Research on verbal probabilities and standard scales issued by national and international authorities suggest that only events with probabilities above 60% should be labelled “likely”. We find, however, that when people apply this term to continuous variables, like expected costs, it describes the most likely (modal) outcome or interval, regardless...
Article
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People’s intuitions about mathematical and statistical concepts often include features that are not a part of the formal definitions. We argue that randomness and related concepts (events happening “accidentally”, “coincidentally” or “by chance”) are typically assumed to occur in a context of small rather than large events. Five experiments were de...
Chapter
Jan Smedslund’s most cited publication is a landmark study of illusory correlations published in 1963. In two experiments, nurse students received decks of patient cards featuring the presence or absence of a specific disease along with the presence or absence of a specific symptom. Nearly all participants reported that the symptom was associated w...
Article
Many daily life events, from lotteries to coincidental encounters, occur partly or entirely randomly or “by chance.” Six experiments, in two different languages, explored how perceptions of randomness are related to the perceived probability of the same events—specifically, whether low-probability events were viewed as more random than similar even...
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine people’s understanding and evaluation of uncertainty intervals produced by experts as part of a quality assurance procedure of large public projects. Design/methodology/approach Three samples of educated participants (employees in a large construction company, students attending courses in project ma...
Article
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Agreements and disagreements between expert statements influence lay people's beliefs. But few studies have examined what is perceived as a disagreement. We report six experiments where people rated agreement between pairs of probabilistic statements about environmental events, attributed to two different experts or to the same expert at two differ...
Article
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The use of interval forecasts allows climate scientists to issue predictions with high levels of certainty even for areas fraught with uncertainty, since wide intervals are objectively more likely to capture the truth than narrow intervals. However, wide intervals are also less informative about what the outcome will be than narrow intervals, imply...
Article
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore experiences and attitudes associated with “precarious work”, an umbrella term for insecure, casual, flexible, contingency, non-standard and zero-hour types of employment. Design/methodology/approach The investigation was carried-out through two studies. The “outside-in” view was represented by busine...
Article
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Predictions of magnitudes (costs, durations, environmental events) are often given as uncertainty intervals (ranges). When are such forecasts judged to be correct? We report results of four experiments showing that forecasted ranges of expected natural events (floods and volcanic eruptions) are perceived as accurate when an observed magnitude falls...
Article
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In the target article, Doliński (2018, this issue) showed that empirical studies of “real” behaviour are an almost extinct species of research, judged from articles published in the most recent volume of JPSP (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). This finding continues a trend identified by Baumeister and colleagues ten years ago. The rel...
Article
Past research has revealed a trend effect when people are faced with a revised probabilistic forecast: A forecasted event that has become more (vs. less) certain is taken to signal a trend toward even stronger (weaker) certainty in future revisions of the forecast. The present paper expands this finding by exploring the boundary conditions of the t...
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Background: To strengthen the risk message on snus warning labels, the European Union in 2016 removed "can" from the warning "This tobacco product (can) damages your health and is addictive." We tested how these and other textual warnings affect risk perception. Methods: Snus-using and non-using Norwegians aged 16-72 participated in two online s...
Article
Climate projections and other predictions are often described as outcomes that can happen, indicating possibilities that are imaginable, but uncertain. Whereas the meanings of other uncertainty terms have been extensively studied, the uses of modal verbs like can and will have rarely been examined. Participants in five experiments were shown graphs...
Article
Research findings differ as to whether choosing a risky option is an efficient strategy for decision makers seeking to avoid responsibility for potential failures. A risky choice may leave the final outcome to chance factors, but the decision maker can still be held responsible for choosing risk. Further, it is unclear whether a risky choice is a r...
Article
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Probability estimates can be given as ranges or uncertainty intervals, where often only one of the interval bounds (lower or upper) is specified. For instance, a climate forecast can describe La Niña as having “more than 70% chance” or “less than 90% chance” of occurring. In three experiments, we studied how research participants perceived climate-...
Article
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Link to free eprints of the article (50 copies available): http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/WHzNwpmhq2v6J297G63i/full
Article
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Some past events incite more wonder about their causes than do others. For example, negative events require explanation more than positive events. We review social psychologists’ theoretical and empirical insights on what kinds of past events ‘beg explanation.’ We draw on attribution theory that became popular among psychologists from the 1960s onw...
Article
Events are temporal ‘‘figures”, which can be defined as identifiable segments in time, bounded by beginnings and endings. But the functions and importance of these two boundaries differ. We argue that beginnings loom larger than endings by attracting more attention, being judged as more important and interesting, warranting more explanation, and ha...
Article
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Forecasts of future outcomes, such as the consequences of climate change, are given with different degrees of precision. Logically, more precise forecasts (e.g., a temperature increase of 3–4°) have a smaller probability of capturing the actual outcome than less precise forecasts (e.g., a temperature increase of 2–6°). Nevertheless, people often tr...
Article
Events can be far away from or near an observer in several respects: they can be distant or close in a spatial, temporal, social, or hypothetical sense. They can also vary in magnitude, physically or in terms of impact and importance. We examine the existence of a general effect of perceived magnitude on judgments of subjective closeness. Studies 1...
Chapter
Judgments and decisions are dependent upon the information available. They are also dependent upon the way the information is presented. Message characteristics that make recipients willing to endorse a message have been discussed within the rhetoric tradition and studied empirically in the psychology of persuasion, advertising, and health communic...
Article
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People often make predictions about the future based on trends they have observed in the past. Revised probabilistic forecasts can be perceived by the public as indicative of such a trend. In five studies, we describe experts who make probabilistic forecasts of various natural events (effects of climate changes, landslide and earthquake risks) at t...
Article
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Current theories of probability recognise a distinction between external (un)certainty (frequentistic probabilities) and internal (un)certainty (degrees of belief). The present studies investigated this distinction in lay people's judgements of probability statements formulated to suggest either an internal (“I am X% certain”) or an external (“It i...
Article
Two streams of research looking at referent-dependent judgments from slightly different angles are subadditivity research and research on the nonselective superiority bias. Both biases violate basic formal constraints: the probabilities of a set of exclusive events cannot add up to more than 100%, and a set of attractive candidates cannot all be ra...
Article
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We report two studies on the perceived responsibility of opponents competing for a goal that can be attained by only one of them. Responsibility judgments were collected in seven samples of lay people and experts before, during, and after the World Chess Championship in 2013. Participants assessed the responsibility of the two players, their suppor...
Article
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When people are asked to estimate the probabilities of uncertain events, they often neglect the additivity principle, which requires that the probabilities assigned to an exhaustive set of outcomes should add up to 100%. Previous studies indicate that additivity neglect is dependent on response format, self-generated probability estimates being mor...
Article
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Data from a series of studies presenting video recorded witness statements to laypersons and legal professionals were examined to trace the relationship between judged probability of guilt and the willingness to vote guilty or not guilty in hypothetical trials, in the absence of specific jury instructions. The results show that a majority of jury-e...
Article
In three experimental studies, with managers and students as participants, we explore in this paper the relation between two kinds of responsibility judgments, called Responsibility 1 (R1) and Responsibility 2 (R2). Decision makers can be viewed as being more or less responsible for their choice and its consequences (R1). Their actions can also be...
Article
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Recent research on verbal probability statements has revealed that some expressions (e.g., possible) are especially appropriate for describing outcomes in the high end of a distribution, whereas other expressions (e.g., certain) are more appropriate for describing low-end values. However, some dimensions appear to be reversible, with higher achieve...
Article
Previous studies of verbal probabilities have tried to place expressions like a chance, possible, and certain on 0-1 numerical probability scales. We ask instead, out of a range of outcomes, which outcome a verbal probability suggests. When, for instance, a sample of laptop batteries lasts from 1.5 to 3.5 hours, what is a certain and what is a poss...
Article
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In most previous studies of verbal probabilities, participants are asked to translate expressions such as possible and not certain into numeric probability values. This probabilistic translation approach can be contrasted with a novel which-outcome (WO) approach that focuses on the outcomes that people naturally associate with probability terms. Th...
Article
Research on verbal probabilities has shown that unlikely or improbable events are believed to correspond to numerical probability values between 10% and 30%. However, building on a pragmatic approach of verbal probabilities and a new methodology, the present paper shows that unlikely outcomes are most often associated with outcomes that have a 0% f...
Article
Decision reversals often imply improved decisions. Yet, people show a strong resistance against changing their minds. These are well-established findings, which suggest that changed decisions carry a subjective cost, perhaps by being more strongly regretted. Three studies were conducted to explore participants' regret when making reversible decisio...
Article
Predictions of uncertain events are often described in terms of what can or what will happen. How are such statements used by speakers, and what are they perceived to mean? Participants in four experiments were presented with distributions of variable product characteristics and were asked to generate natural, meaningful sentences containing either...
Article
Halkjelsvik, T., Rognaldsen, M. & Teigen, K. H. (2012). Desire for control and optimistic time predictions. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 53, 499–505. Few studies have investigated individual differences in time predictions. We report two experiments that show an interaction between the personality trait Desirability of Control and reward cond...
Article
Studies of people involved in accidents and disasters have usually focused on traumatic effects. In contrast this paper summarizes two studies of travelers exposed to the effects of natural disasters where luck is a pivotal theme. Participants in the first study were 85 Norwegian tourists, interviewed after their return from the Tsunami disaster in...
Article
Many real-life decisions (e.g. promises, plans and agreements) involve a time interval between when the decision is made and the main outcome is revealed. Nearly all regret studies focus on anticipated or experienced post-outcome regret. We argue that regret is also frequently experienced in the pre-outcome period, and that this ‘pre-outcome regret...
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Proverbs are often criticized for being contradictory and hence not necessarily true. The study examines two sets of contradictory proverbs: one concerned the values or disadvantages of novelty and change; in the other, contradictory pairs were arbitrarily produced through reversals (negations) of a variety of genuine proverbs. Both sets were evalu...
Article
Past research has shown that people underestimate the time they need to complete large tasks, whereas completion times for smaller tasks are often overestimated, suggesting higher productivity estimates for larger than for smaller tasks. By replacing the traditional question about how much time a given work will take with a question about how much...
Article
Counterfactual thinking is often assumed to depend on closeness between what is and what might have been, following a principle of minimal mutations of reality. Yet when people are asked to describe autobiographical incidents that “might” have been different, they typically report situations that could have had opposite rather than just different o...
Article
When two individuals are doing a joint task, most people seem to think that the responsibility should be divided proportionally between them in a complementary fashion, so that an increase in one actor's responsibility leads to a corresponding decrease in the responsibility of the second actor. However, with three or four actors, the individual res...
Article
Subjective experiences of good or bad luck appear to depend upon downward or upward comparisons with close counterfactuals. People exposed to disasters have both options: They were at the wrong place at the wrong time, but their fate could in many cases have been worse; so in a sense, they are unlucky victims, but lucky survivors. Interviews with 8...
Article
This research focuses on what determines speakers' choice of positive and negative probability phrases (e.g., "a chance" vs. "not certain") in a legal context. We argue that choice of phrase to describe an event's probability of occurrence can be determined by the contrast between its current p value and an earlier p value, and not by that current...
Article
Teigen, K.H. & Filkuková, P. (2011). Are lies more wrong than errors? Accuracy judgments of inaccurate statements. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 52, 8–20. People are often mistaken when estimating and predicting quantities, and sometimes they report values that they know are false: they lie. There exists, however, little research devoted to ho...
Article
Surprise has been described in various contexts as a neutral, a positive, or a negative emotion. Six experiments are reported in which surprise ratings of unexpected positive and negative outcomes, with identical prior probabilities, were compared. For unexpected occurrences of events that are beyond the control of the protagonist, successes were c...
Article
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This study explores how managers’ framing of project progress can reveal investment intentions. In three experiments managers were asked to evaluate hypothetical progress statements related to a failing project. Experiment 1 showed that past-oriented statements, describing the amount of work done and amount of budget and time spent (75%), were perc...
Article
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In many situations of indeterminacy, where people agree that no decisive arguments favor one alternative to another, they are still strongly opposed to resolving the dilemma by a coin toss. The robustness of this judgment-decision discrepancy is demonstrated in several experiments, where factors like the importance of consequences, similarity of al...
Article
Imprecisely known quantities (e.g., predictions) are often described in approximate terms as “more than X” or “less than Y” (e.g., “Ann will earn more than $50 000” or “less than $60 000”). Such phrases carry both quantitative and qualitative (pragmatic) information. Three studies are reported showing that lower limit estimates (more than, over, mi...
Article
Estimates about uncertain quantities can be expressed in terms of lower limits (more than X, minimum X), or upper limits (less than Y, maximum Y). It has been shown that lower limit statements generally occur much more often than upper limit statements (Halberg & Teigen, 2009). However, in a conversational context, preferences for upper and lower l...
Article
Nearly all framing studies to date presuppose unbiased estimates. If an expert says that “programme A will save 200 people”, it is tacitly assumed that this prediction is correct. In real life this is rarely the case. In the present study people were asked to evaluate such claims that eventually turned out to be incorrect. Participants in five expe...
Article
Approximate estimates of prices, grades, temperatures, sales figures, and other uncertain target amounts (T) can be expressed as uncertainty intervals. In daily life, often only one interval limit (lower or upper) is suggested. Such estimates contain both quantitative and pragmatic (qualitative) information. Limit values function as reference point...
Article
According to the interaction hypothesis of interest, the inherent interestingness of a communication or a situation will be maximal when novel and familiar elements are simultaneously present. This is illustrated in three experimental demonstrations, where students were to indicate their interest (a) in book titles (more and less well-known authors...
Article
— Previous studies of sampling distributions have been conducted almost exclusively under the assumption that persons behave in accordance with the “fundamental convention” of probability, i.e. that the sum of all probability estimates will equal 1. When this assumption was tested by asking subjects to give “unrestricted” probability estimates of a...
Article
— When asked to estimate the probability of outcomes of draws from a binomial population, student subjects tend to report p values that clearly exceed the objective ones. The probability of specific binomial sequences was found to be even more overestimated, while the answers became much more conservative when the outcomes were grouped into a few c...
Article
When students are asked to predict the outcome of a random event, where all alternatives are equally probable (lotteries), they tend to choose central, “representative” values, and avoid extreme ones. In ten informal experiments, it is shown how this pattern of choices is influenced by various procedural and structural changes in the basic task. Th...
Article
The study was designed to test the hypothesis that interest in information reaches a maximum when something novel is predicted about a well-known subject. The hypothesis predicts that news will be considered more attractive the more familiar its source or theme. This was confirmed in two experiments, where Norwegian and British students were asked...
Article
The study examines guessing patterns in situations where outcomes have an unequal probability of occurring. It is shown that people will not always predict the most probable outcome if this is an extreme, “unrepresentative” value (Experiments I and II). It is also demonstrated that predictions are influenced by which questions are asked (for instan...
Article
In four experiments, student subjects were asked to estimate probabilities for a list of two to ten exhaustive, non-chance events, covering a variety of situations, both of prediction and diagnosis. Only in the two-alternative case a majority gave estimates which add up to unity (or 100%). As the number of alternatives increased, the total probabil...
Article
Evaluations of self and others in the past, present, and future were examined by asking 385 students to rate themselves or an acquaintance relative to their peers on a number of personality traits. We predicted, and found, evidence for self-enhancement, as most participants regarded themselves superior to ‘most others’ at all points in time. We als...
Article
Sighing and the interpretation of sighs in everyday life seem never to have been the subject of psychological research. A questionnaire study of sighing showed that people associate sighing mainly with negative, low-intensity and deactivated emotional states. A second study investigated self/other differences in the interpretation of sighs in four...
Article
The paper reports the results from 16 versions of a simple probability estimation task, where probability estimates derived from base-rate information have to be modified by case knowledge. In the bus problem [adapted from Falk, R., Lipson, A., & Konold, C. (1994). The ups and downs of the hope function in a fruitless search. In G. Wright & P. Ayto...
Article
People often describe uncertain quantities by suggesting a lower or upper limit of an uncertainty interval, rather than the complete range. Five studies are reported, which demonstrate how interval limits function as provisional reference points (PRP), conferring evaluative meanings to the target objects, by suggesting downward or upward comparison...
Article
Uncertain quantities can be described by single-point estimates of lower interval bounds (X1), upper interval bounds (X2), two-bound estimates (separate estimates of X1 and X2), and by ranges (X1−X2). A price estimation task showed that single-bound estimates phrased as “T costs more than X1” and “T costs less than X2,” yielded much larger interval...
Article
In daily life, probabilities are often assessed informally through the perceived distance to a target event. Accident probabilities are believed to be high when a disastrous outcome appears to be close. This proximity heuristic can lead to exaggerated p(death) estimates in risky situations (Experiment 2), and sometimes higher probabilities for deat...
Article
Full-text available
Progress on a well-defined project can be described along a task dimension in terms of amount done, or as amount of work still to be completed. Time-limited projects can also be described on a temporal dimension in terms of time spent versus time left. Five experiments are reported showing that such frames have predictable implications for speakers...
Article
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Estimated confidence intervals for general knowledge items are usually too narrow. We report five experiments showing that people have much less confidence in these intervals than dictated by the assigned level of confidence. For instance, 90% intervals can be associated with an estimated confidence of 50% or less (and still lower hit rates). Moreo...
Article
When people are asked to choose between gift items, givers and receivers sometimes show different patterns of preferences. The article reports four experimental studies exploring these giver-receiver asymmetries. Whereas givers tend to prefer exclusive, but smaller gift items, receivers appear to prefer less luxurious, and more useful gifts (Experi...
Article
Can Verbal Probabilities be Translated into Numbers?Can Vagueness be Quantitatively Represented?Do Words Represent the Same Probabilities As Numbers?Two Kinds of Verbal Probability ExpressionsWhen Are Positive and Negative Phrases Chosen?Consequences of Choice of TermsNumeric Probabilities RevisitedConclusion References
Article
When people are asked to ‘explain’ a time series consisting of population statistics, they will suggest factors responsible for later events rather than for earlier events. This is shown in Experiment 1 for pairs of events and in Experiment 2 for triads of events with one deviant member. When the deviant statistic is the most recent one, it will in...
Article
The uncertainty of a software development effort estimate can be indicated through a prediction interval (PI), i.e., the estimated minimum and maximum effort corresponding to a specific confidence level. For example, a project manager may be “90% confident” or believe that is it “very likely” that the effort required to complete a project will be b...
Article
Outcome expectations can be expressed prospectively in terms of probability estimates, and retrospectively in terms of surprise. Surprise ratings and probability estimates differ, however, in some important ways. Surprises are generally created by low-probability outcomes, yet, as shown by several experiments, not all low-probability outcomes are e...
Article
Verbal expressions of probability and uncertainty are of two kinds: positive (‘probable’, ‘possible’) and negative (‘not certain’, ‘doubtful’). Choice of term has implications for predictions and decisions. The present studies show that positive phrases are rated to be more optimistic (when the target outcome is positive), and more correct, when th...
Article
Mainstream psychology in the 20th century has been conceived as a nomothetic science, but few psychological "laws" have been proposed. A PsycLit search of journal abstracts from 1900 to 1999 yielded a total of 3,093 "law" citations, or 22 per 10,000 entries, with two psychophysical laws (Weber's law and Stevens's power law) and two learning laws (H...
Article
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This article presents a framework for lay people's internal representations of probabilities, which supposedly reflect the strength of underlying dispositions, or propensities, associated with the predicted event. From this framework, we derive the probability-outcome correspondence principle, which asserts that strong dispositions should lead to (...
Article
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What do people regard as an informative and valuable probability statement? This article reports four experiments that show participants to have a clear preference for more extreme and higher probabilities over less extreme and lower ones. This pattern emerged in Experiment 1, in which no context was provided, and was further explored in Experiment...
Article
When six equally qualified candidates compete for the same position, p = 1/6 for each. People seem to accept this principle more readily for numerical than for verbal probabilities. Equal chances with three to six alternatives are often verbally described in a positive vein as "entirely possible" or "a good chance" and rarely negatively as "doubtfu...
Article
The distinction between abstract (rule-based) and contextual (intuitive) thinking is illustrated by studies of numeric versus linguistic expressions of probability. Verbal probabilities are believed to reflect intuitions that can be adaptive and occasionally normative (e.g., counteracting conjunction errors). Stanovich & West's interpretation of an...
Article
Verbal phrases denoting uncertainty are usually held to be more vague than numerical probability statements. They are, however, directionally more precise, in the sense that they are either positive, suggesting the occurrence of a target outcome, or negative, drawing attention to its non-occurrence. A numerical probability will, in contrast, someti...
Article
Childrens' and adolescents' ideals were the subject of a number of developmental studies published between 1898 and 1918 in several Western countries. The article reports the results from two recent Norwegian samples, one of about 2500 16-17 year olds (10th graders) in western Norway, and the other on about 200 13-14 year olds (7th graders) in nort...
Article
Good luck implies comparison with a worse counterfactual outcome, whereas bad luck implies upward comparisons. People will accordingly describe themselves as particularly lucky after recollecting situations where they avoided something negative, and as particularly unlucky after recollecting episodes in which they missed something positive (Study 1...

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