Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
The effects of communicating uncertainty around statistics on public trust: an international study
John Kerr
Anne Marthe van der Bles
Claudia R Schneider
Sarah Dryhurst
Vivien Chopurian
Alexandra Freeman
Sander van der Linden
Acceso Abierto
A growing body of research indicates that transparent communication of statistical uncertainty around facts and figures does not undermine credibility. However, the extent to which these findings apply in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic--rife with uncertainties--is unclear. In a large international survey experiment, (Study 1; N = 10,519) we report that communicating uncertainty around COVID-19 statistics in the form of a numeric range (vs. no uncertainty) may lead to slightly lower trust in the number presented but has no impact on trust in the source of the information. We also report the minimal impact of numeric uncertainty on trust is consistent across estimates of current or future COVID-19 statistics (Study 2) and figures relating to environmental or economic research, rather than the pandemic (Study 3). Conversely, we find imprecise statements about the mere existence of uncertainty without quantification can undermine both trust in the numbers and their source--though effects vary across countries and contexts. Communicators can be transparent about statistical uncertainty without concerns about undermining perceptions of their trustworthiness, but ideally should aim to use numerical ranges rather than verbal statements.
Epidemia COVID-19
Público en general
Versión publicada
publishedVersion - Versión publicada
Appears in Collections:Artículos científicos

Upload archives