Quantitative media literacy: Individual differences in dealing with numbers in the news.

Dolf Zillmann, David Callison, Rhonda Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A test of arithmetic aptitude was developed and validated. The consequences of individual differences in this aspect of quantitative literacy were then determined for attention to, and dependent recall of, numeric quantities embedded in printed news reports. It was found that persons of high arithmetic aptitude recalled frequencies and ratios more correctly, both in precise and approximate terms, than did persons of low arithmetic aptitude. This effect was consistent across gender of respondent. It was also consistent across commonly employed presentational formats of numeric quantities. The inferior processing of numeric quantities by persons of low quantitative literacy, especially the dependent estimation of risk and benefit likelihoods, is considered in terms of theories that project these persons’ greater reliance on intuitive assessments of the incidence of occurrences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-416
JournalMedia Psychology
StatePublished - 2009

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