Berlin Numeracy Test – New Instrument for Measuring Risk Literacy

February 14, 2012

How well do we understand the risks of daily life? Are we able to correctly interpret statistical expressions and weigh the pros and cons of important decisions—e.g. related to financial investments or medical treatment? The Berlin Numeracy Test is a new instrument introduced by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in cooperation with the Michigan Technological University and the University of Granada. According to their studies it doubles the predictive power of other numeracy instruments.

The Berlin Numeracy Test is a new psychometrically sound instrument that quickly assesses statistical numeracy and risk literacy. The researchers could demonstrate in 21 studies with more than 5,000 participants from 15 different countries that their instrument was the strongest predictor of comprehension of everyday risks (e.g. those related to medical diagnoses and treatments) and statistical probabilities (e.g. those involved in weather forecasts)—doubling the predictive power of other cognitive tests.

This easy-to-use tool is available in multiple languages and formats and can be freely accessed at Due to its potential for the quick and adaptive measurement of risk literacy and its applicability for diverse samples the instrument offers versatile scientific applications, thus contributing to a more comprehensible presentation of medical, legal or economic data. Simultaneously, participants can test their statistical skills and receive immediate feedback and suggestions.

Example question from the Berlin Numeracy Test

Imagine we are throwing a five-sided die 50 times. On average, out of these 50 throws how many times would this five-sided die show an odd number (1, 3 or 5)?
________ [Correct answer: 30]

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