Assessing confidence regarding evidence in support of causal claims




As some of you may know, I’m a PhD student in psychology at Birkbeck, University of London. As such, I’m conducting research for my dissertation, and I’d like you to help.

Before you decide to take part in this study, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please read the following carefully and make your decision whether to participate a thoughtful one.

In my dissertation, I’m investigating the frequency with which we misrepresent everyday problems and why with the aim of becoming better at representing and thereby solving them. Everyday problems are virtually every problem in life. Whereas a well-defined problem is clear in every respect, at least one critical aspect of an everyday problem is unclear. For example, we may be uncertain as to our actual problem, or we may be unsure of our goal.

You have been approached as a potential participant given an assumed willingness to participate in such studies, perhaps as indicated by being in the Birkbeck participant database.

Should you participate, you will do so online starting in late November/early December 2017. In participating, you will be presented with two hypothetical everyday problems as well as suggested causes of those problems. Then, for each causal claim you will be asked to rate 5 evidence items on a scale of 1 to 5 with regard to its strength in support of the claim, 1 being strongest and 5 being weakest. Your responses will be confidential and anonymized. There are no risks envisioned in participating, but you are free to withdraw at any time prior to the aggregation of the data collected. The data will be referred to in my dissertation and may be referred to collectively in conference proceedings and other published works.

This study is one in a series that will inform my dissertation. The project has been approved by Birkbeck’s Department of Psychological Sciences Research Ethics Committee.

Many thanks for your consideration, and I sincerely hope you"ll participate. By participating, you will help me in my search for answers to some important and currently unanswered questions. Should you want any further information, please feel free to contact one of us:

Primary InvestigatorSupervisor
Ronald Balzan Professor Richard Cooper

Best regards, Ron Balzan