Measuring Risk Literacy: The Berlin Numeracy Test

Abstract

We introduce the Berlin Numeracy Test, a new psychometrically sound instrument that quickly assesses statistical numeracy and risk literacy. We present 21 studies (n=5336) showing robust psychometric discriminability across 15 countries (e.g., Germany, Pakistan, Japan, USA) and diverse samples (e.g., medical professionals, general populations, Mechanical Turk web panels). Analyses demonstrate desirable patterns of convergent validity (e.g., numeracy, general cognitive abilities), discriminant validity (e.g., personality, motivation), and criterion validity (e.g., numerical and nonnumerical questions about risk). The Berlin Numeracy Test was found to be the strongest predictor of comprehension of everyday risks (e.g., evaluating claims about products and treatments; interpreting forecasts), doubling the predictive power of other numeracy instruments and accounting for unique variance beyond other cognitive tests (e.g., cognitive reflection, working memory, intelligence). The Berlin Numeracy Test typically takes about three minutes to complete and is available in multiple languages and formats, including a computer adaptive test that automatically scores and reports data to researchers (www.riskliteracy.org). The online forum also provides interactive content for public outreach and education, and offers a recommendation system for test format selection. Discussion centers on construct validity of numeracy for risk literacy, underlying cognitive mechanisms, and applications in adaptive decision support. Link

Publication
Judgment and Decision Making