Lay Understanding of the First Four Moments of Observed Distributions: a Test of Economic and Psychological Assumptions

David Rothschild, Yahoo! Research, USA
Daniel Goldstein, Yahoo! Research, USA
Can laypeople estimate the mean, variance, skewness, and kurtosis of observed numbers? Economists assume only aggregated responses are useful; psychologists suggest individual estimates are biased. We test multiple interfaces for eliciting distributional information from laypeople and find that “the wisdom of crowds within one mind” can lead to accurate estimates.
[ to cite ]:
David Rothschild and Daniel Goldstein (2012) ,"Lay Understanding of the First Four Moments of Observed Distributions: a Test of Economic and Psychological Assumptions", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 40, eds. Zeynep Gürhan-Canli, Cele Otnes, and Rui (Juliet) Zhu, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 284-287.