This paper is from Session 8C: Making sense of risk
Full topic list
which comes under Topic 8: Research in statistics education

(Wednesday 14th, 11:00-13:00)

Conditions for risk assessment as a topic for probabilistic education



  • Marco Monti (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany)


Statistical literacy is a necessary condition for informed consent and competent citizenship in a modern society. We report data on risk assessment in the context of both medical and investment decision making, which demonstrate that transparent (rather than opaque) communication of risks becomes essential for fostering coherent decisions. We also report on research that reveals how risk communication provided by the pharmaceutical industry or by financial advisors tends to be opaque and excessively complex, rather than transparent and simple. Transparent risk communication can be achieved by making use of frequency statements instead of single-event probabilities, absolute risks instead of relative risks and, in general, “natural” representations of conditional probabilities. We also propose methodologies for instructing children in risk assessments, at an early stadium. These methodologies are based on simple examples.