Thursday, February 9, 2012

Are you Risk Literate?: THE BERLIN NUMERACY TEST

From Decision Science News:

We’ve written before about the challenges of communicating risks. Can people understand the risks inherent in their savings plans, loans, surgeries, or medications? This week, researchers have published a new instrument designed to very quickly assess exactly that (
We introduce the Berlin Numeracy Test, a new psychometrically sound instrument that quickly assesses statistical numeracy and risk literacy. We present 21 studies (n=5336) showing robust psychometric discriminability across 15 countries (e.g., Germany, Pakistan, Japan, USA) and diverse samples (e.g., medical professionals, general populations, Mechanical Turk web panels).
The authors report that the test is the strongest predictor of comprehension of many everyday risks (e.g., evaluating claims about products and treatments; interpreting forecasts) doubling the predictive power of dozens of other commonly used tools (e.g., intelligence, personality, motivation, decision styles). They argue that by quickly assessing risk literacy and statistical numeracy, researchers can adaptively deliver more accessible information about risks in health, finance, and technology.

For example, after a couple questions people might get interactive brochures that are custom-tailored for their skill set. Alternatively, doctors, financial advisors, and lawyers might use similar fast tests to get a sense of the appropriate level of discourse for their diverse clients. The test can also be used to simply learn more about one’s own risk literacy.

To take the test go to and in about 2-3 minutes you’ll get feedback about your levels of risk literacy as compared to educated people and professionals from around the world.
HT: Simoleon Sense