# Well, Pollatsek, & Boyce (1990)

*Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 47*, 289-312.

In the first three experiments, we attempted to learn more about subjects' understanding of the importance of sample size by systematically changing aspects of the problems we gave to subjects. In a fourth study, understanding of the effects of sample size was tested as subjects went through a computer-assisted training procedure that dealt with random sampling and the sampling distribution of the mean. Subjects used sample size information more appropriately for problems that were stated in terms of the accuracy of the sample average or the center of the sampling distribution than for problems stated in terms of the tails of the sampling distribution. Apparently, people understand that the means of larger samples are more likely to resemble the population mean but not the implications of this fact for the variability of the mean. The fourth experiment showed that although instruction about the sampling distribution of the mean led to better understanding of the effects of sample size, subjects were still unable to make correct inferences about the variability of the mean. The appreciation that people have for some aspects of the law of large numbers does not seem to result from an in-depth understanding of the relation between sample size and variability.

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