Communication of Uncertainty in Temperature Forecasts

Pricilla Marimo University of Exeter Business School, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Todd R. Kaplan University of Exeter Business School, Exeter, United Kingdom, and Department of Economics, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel

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Ken Mylne Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Martin Sharpe Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Abstract

Experimental economics is used to test whether undergraduate students presented with a temperature forecast with uncertainty information in a table and bar graph format were able to use the extra information to interpret a given forecast. Participants were asked to choose the most probable temperature-based outcome between a set of “lotteries.” Both formats with uncertainty information were found on average to significantly increase the probability of choosing the correct outcome. However, in some cases providing uncertainty information was damaging. Factors that influence understanding are statistically determined. Furthermore, participants who were shown the graph with uncertainty information took on average less response time compared to those who were shown a table with uncertainty information. Over time, participants improve in speed and initially improve in accuracy of choosing the correct outcome.

Corresponding author address: Pricilla Marimo, University of Exeter Business School, Streatham Court, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4PU, United Kingdom. E-mail: pm272@ex.ac.uk

Abstract

Experimental economics is used to test whether undergraduate students presented with a temperature forecast with uncertainty information in a table and bar graph format were able to use the extra information to interpret a given forecast. Participants were asked to choose the most probable temperature-based outcome between a set of “lotteries.” Both formats with uncertainty information were found on average to significantly increase the probability of choosing the correct outcome. However, in some cases providing uncertainty information was damaging. Factors that influence understanding are statistically determined. Furthermore, participants who were shown the graph with uncertainty information took on average less response time compared to those who were shown a table with uncertainty information. Over time, participants improve in speed and initially improve in accuracy of choosing the correct outcome.

Corresponding author address: Pricilla Marimo, University of Exeter Business School, Streatham Court, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4PU, United Kingdom. E-mail: pm272@ex.ac.uk
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