Number Lines Can Be More Effective at Facilitating Adults’ Performance on Health-Related Ratio Problems Than Risk Ladders and Icon Arrays

Marta K. Mielicki, Charles J. Fitzsimmons, Lauren K. Schiller, Dan Scheibe, Jennifer M. Taber, Pooja G. Sidney, Percival G. Matthews, Erika A. Waters, Karin G. Coifman, Clarissa A. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Visual displays, such as icon arrays and risk ladders, are often used to communicate numerical health information. Number lines improve reasoning with rational numbers but are seldom used in health contexts. College students solved ratio problems related to COVID-19 (e.g., number of deaths and number of cases) in one of four randomly assigned conditions: icon arrays, risk ladders, number lines, or no accompanying visual display. As predicted, number lines facilitated performance on these problems—the number line condition outperformed the other visual display conditions, which did not perform any better than the no visual display condition. In addition, higher performance on the health-related ratio problems was associated with higher COVID-19 worry for oneself and others, higher perceptions of COVID-19 severity, and higher endorsement of intentions to engage in preventive health behaviors, even when controlling for baseline math skills. These findings have important implications for effectively presenting health statistics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-543
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 3 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • health decision making
  • number lines
  • numerical cognition
  • visual displays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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