Grounds, M. A., & Joslyn, S. L. (2018). Communicating weather forecast uncertainty: Do individual differences matter? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 24(1), 18–33.


Research suggests that people make better weather-related decisions when they are given numeric probabilities for critical outcomes (Joslyn & Leclerc, 2012, 2013). However, it is unclear whether all users can take advantage of probabilistic forecasts to the same extent. The research reported here assessed key cognitive and demographic factors to determine their relationship to the use of probabilistic forecasts to improve decision quality. In two studies, participants decided between spending resources to prevent icy conditions on roadways or risk a larger penalty when freezing temperatures occurred. Several forecast formats were tested, including a control condition with the night-time low temperature alone and experimental conditions that also included the probability of freezing and advice based on expected value. All but those with extremely low numeracy scores made better decisions with probabilistic forecasts. Importantly, no groups made worse decisions when probabilities were included. Moreover, numeracy was the best predictor of decision quality, regardless of forecast format, suggesting that the advantage may extend beyond understanding the forecast to general decision strategy issues. This research adds to a growing body of evidence that numerical uncertainty estimates may be an effective way to communicate weather danger to general public end users. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)