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Lecture | Seminar

FGGA Research Seminar: Lost Ark Found: A Century Old Psychology of Performance Information

  • Asmus Leth Olsen, Copenhagen University
22 March 2018
FGGA Research Seminars
Wijnhaven Building
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP Den Haag

Asmus Leth Olsen will present results from his research on how citizens interpret numerical performance data in the public sector. He will stress the importance of symbolic numbers, attention to negative results, the subtle effects of framing, and the importance of benchmarks and comparisons offered to citizens.
One of the studies, he will draw on, focuses on misperceptions about crime. Citizens are on average too pessimistic when assessing the trajectory of current crime trends. In this study, he examines whether we can correct this perceptual bias with respect to burglaries. Using a field experiment coupled with a large panel survey (n=4,895), the study explores whether a public information campaign can reduce misperceptions about the prevalence of burglaries. Embedding the correct information about burglary rates in a direct mail campaign, the study finds that it is possible to substantially reduce citizens’ misperceptions. The effects are not short lived – they are detectable several weeks after the mailer was sent, but they are temporary. Eventually the perceptual bias re-emerges. The results suggest that if citizens were continually supplied with correct information about crime rates they would be less pessimistic. Reducing bias in citizens’ perception of crime rates might therefore be a matter of adjusting the supply of (dis)information about crime.

 Registration is not neccessary, and after the seminar, refreshments will be served.