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Numerical Meanings of Probabilistic Expressions (ICPSR 6046) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

These data were collected to obtain a clearer understanding of the quantitative meanings that people perceive in common words used to describe probabilistic outcomes. For example, in everyday language, people apply the expressions "always" and "certain" to events that occur in fewer than 100 percent of their opportunities. In this study, science writers were surveyed and asked to quantify, in a percentage term, their understanding of each of 52 expressions. They were also asked to indicate how they thought their readers would quantify each term, giving both an upper and lower limit they thought their readers would set for each expression. One group of expressions included the word "probability", and ranged from "very high probability" to "very low probability". Another used various forms of the word "probable", such as "very probable" and "improbable". Other expressions were centered around the word "chance": "better than even chance" to "less than even chance". The survey also included words like "always", "often", "frequently", "never", and "sometimes". Also tested were expressions with regularly used modifiers such as "very", or negation (not, un-, im-, in-), so that the effect of such modifiers could be evaluated. The sample of respondents was split to permit assessment of the effects of order of presentation: half received a form that ranked the expressions within 15 groups from high probability to low, while the other half received a form ordering the expressions from low probability to high.

Access Notes

  • These data are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Because you are not logged in, we cannot verify that you will be able to download the data.

Dataset(s)

WARNING: Because this study has many datasets, the download all files option has been suppressed, and you will need to download one dataset at a time.

DS0:  Study-Level Files
Documentation:
DS1:  Data ("Always"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS2:  Data ("Always"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS3:  Data ("Almost Always"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS4:  Data ("Almost Always"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS5:  Data ("Certain"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS6:  Data ("Certain"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS7:  Data ("Almost Certain"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS8:  Data ("Almost Certain"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS9:  Data ("Very Frequent"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS10:  Data ("Very Frequent"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS11:  Data ("Frequent"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS12:  Data ("Frequent"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS13:  Data ("Not Infrequent"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS14:  Data ("Not Infrequent"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS15:  Data ("Infrequent"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS16:  Data ("Infrequent"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS17:  Data ("Very Infrequent"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS18:  Data ("Very Infrequent"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS19:  Data ("Very High Probability"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS20:  Data ("Very High Probability"), Form B - Download All Files (78 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS21:  Data ("High Probability"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS22:  Data ("High Probability"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS23:  Data ("Moderate Probability"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS24:  Data ("Moderate Probability"), Form B - Download All Files (78 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS25:  Data ("Low Probability"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS26:  Data ("Low Probability"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS27:  Data ("Very Low Probability"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS28:  Data ("Very Low Probability"), Form B - Download All Files (78 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS29:  Data ("Very Likely"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS30:  Data ("Very Likely"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS31:  Data ("Likely"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS32:  Data ("Likely"), Form B - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS33:  Data ("Unlikely"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS34:  Data ("Unlikely"), Form B - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS35:  Data ("Very Unlikely"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS36:  Data ("Very Unlikely"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS37:  Data ("Very Probable"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS38:  Data ("Very Probable"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS39:  Data ("Probable"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS40:  Data ("Probable"), Form B - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS41:  Data ("Improbable"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS42:  Data ("Improbable"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS43:  Data ("Very Improbable"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS44:  Data ("Very Improbable"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS45:  Data ("Very Often"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS46:  Data ("Very Often"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS47:  Data ("Often"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS48:  Data ("Often"), Form B - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS49:  Data ("More Often Than Not"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS50:  Data ("More Often Than Not"), Form B - Download All Files (78 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS51:  Data ("As Often As Not"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS52:  Data ("As Often As Not"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS53:  Data ("Less Often Than Not"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS54:  Data ("Less Often Than Not"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS55:  Data ("Not Often"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS56:  Data ("Not Often"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS57:  Data ("Not Very Often"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS58:  Data ("Not Very Often"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS59:  Data ("Possible"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS60:  Data ("Possible"), Form B - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS61:  Data ("Impossible"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS62:  Data ("Impossible"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS63:  Data ("High Chance"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS64:  Data ("High Chance"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS65:  Data ("Better Than Even Chance"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS66:  Data ("Better Than Even Chance"), Form B - Download All Files (78 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS67:  Data ("Even Chance"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS68:  Data ("Even Chance"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS69:  Data ("Less Than Even Chance"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS70:  Data ("Less Than Even Chance"), Form B - Download All Files (79 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS71:  Data ("Poor Chance"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS72:  Data ("Poor Chance"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS73:  Data ("Low Chance"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS74:  Data ("Low Chance"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS75:  Data ("Liable to Happen"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS76:  Data ("Liable to Happen"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS77:  Data ("Might Happen"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS78:  Data ("Might Happen"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS79:  Data ("Usually"), Form A - Download All Files (75 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS80:  Data ("Usually"), Form B - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS81:  Data ("Unusually"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS82:  Data ("Unusually"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS83:  Data ("Sometimes"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS84:  Data ("Sometimes"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS85:  Data ("Once in a While"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS86:  Data ("Once in a While"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS87:  Data ("Not Unreasonable"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS88:  Data ("Not Unreasonable"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS89:  Data ("Occasionally"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS90:  Data ("Occasionally"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS91:  Data ("Now and Then"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS92:  Data ("Now and Then"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS93:  Data ("Seldom"), Form A - Download All Files (75 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS94:  Data ("Seldom"), Form B - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS95:  Data ("Very Seldom"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS96:  Data ("Very Seldom"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS97:  Data ("Rarely"), Form A - Download All Files (75 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS98:  Data ("Rarely"), Form B - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS99:  Data ("Very Rarely"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS100:  Data ("Very Rarely"), Form A - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS101:  Data ("Almost Never"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS102:  Data ("Almost Never"), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS103:  Data ("Never"), Form A - Download All Files (76 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS104:  Data ('Never'), Form B - Download All Files (77 KB)
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup

Study Description

Citation

Mosteller, Frederick, and Cleo Youtz. NUMERICAL MEANINGS OF PROBABILISTIC EXPRESSIONS. Cambridge, MA: Frederick Mosteller and Cleo Youtz [producers], 1993. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1994. doi:10.3886/ICPSR06046.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (SES 8401422)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   language, language study, perceptions

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1987

Universe:   The universe consisted of 637 members of the National Association of Science Writers in the United States and Canada.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The data are provided, as received from the producer, in 104 discrete small files, each corresponding to one of the 52 probabilistic expressions and to one of the two survey forms. The files have been edited by ICPSR for easier handling by statistical software. Specifically, two lines of comment, which identified the expression to which the file's data referred, have been removed from each file. In their place, two variables have been added to each record: one identifying the expression and a second identifying the form code. In addition, the respondent identification code was edited to remove blanks. Users should note that the data are not arranged in these files in fixed columns but in a free-format list, with one record per line and each variable delimited by a comma.

Methodology

Sample:   A total of 238 respondents from the population (37 percent response rate).

Data Source:

self-enumerated questionnaires

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-01-12 All files were removed from dataset 106 and flagged as study-level files, so that they will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-01-12 All files were removed from dataset 105 and flagged as study-level files, so that they will accompany all downloads.

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