How Do Speakers Choose Uncertainty Phrases to Express Guilt Probabilities?

Abstract

Many studies have documented what listeners understand when uncertainty is communicated to them verbally. Yet we still know little about the factors that will influence speakers' choice of a probability phrase over another when they wish to communicate uncertain facts. Using a legal setting, we showed that the quantitative meaning and the directionality of the verbal probability chosen were affected by both the uncertain outcome's numerical probability and its perceived propensity of guilt. The discussion of these results will focus on implications for the understanding of speakers' choices of verbal probability phrases and for risk-framing in legal contexts.


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