: Media news during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic often entail complex numerical concepts such as exponential increase or reproduction number. This study investigated whether people have difficulties in understanding such information and whether these difficulties are related to numerical competence, reflective thinking, and risk proneness. One hundred sixty-three participants provided answers to a numeracy scale focusing on complex numerical concepts relevant to COVID-19 (COV Numeracy Scale). They also provided responses to well-established objective and subjective scales, questions about affective states, and questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher scores on the COV Numeracy Scale correlated with higher scores on the Health Numeracy Scale, in the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT), and in self-assessments of verbal comprehension, mathematical intelligence, and subjective numeracy. Interestingly, scores on the COV Numeracy Scale also positively correlated with the number of consulted information sources about COVID-19. Accuracy in the CRT emerged as a significant predictor, explaining ca. 14% of variance on the COV Numeracy Scale. The results suggest that people with lower reflective thinking skills and lower subjective and objective numerical competence can be more at disadvantage when confronted with COVID-related numerical information in everyday life. These findings advise caution in the communication of relevant public health information that entails complex numerical concepts.

Understanding of Numerical Information during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Gamboz, Nadia;
2021

Abstract

: Media news during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic often entail complex numerical concepts such as exponential increase or reproduction number. This study investigated whether people have difficulties in understanding such information and whether these difficulties are related to numerical competence, reflective thinking, and risk proneness. One hundred sixty-three participants provided answers to a numeracy scale focusing on complex numerical concepts relevant to COVID-19 (COV Numeracy Scale). They also provided responses to well-established objective and subjective scales, questions about affective states, and questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher scores on the COV Numeracy Scale correlated with higher scores on the Health Numeracy Scale, in the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT), and in self-assessments of verbal comprehension, mathematical intelligence, and subjective numeracy. Interestingly, scores on the COV Numeracy Scale also positively correlated with the number of consulted information sources about COVID-19. Accuracy in the CRT emerged as a significant predictor, explaining ca. 14% of variance on the COV Numeracy Scale. The results suggest that people with lower reflective thinking skills and lower subjective and objective numerical competence can be more at disadvantage when confronted with COVID-related numerical information in everyday life. These findings advise caution in the communication of relevant public health information that entails complex numerical concepts.
analytical thinking
decision-making
health numeracy
numerical concepts
risk understanding
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12570/25792
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