Decision Making – techniques for Interpreting Information questions

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August 30, 2017 by Emedica

The Interpreting Information questions can look quite alarming as the ‘information’ you are asked to interpret can appear to be fiddly, dense and – most crucially – there is a lot of it!

As with the syllogism questions you are asked to ‘drag and drop’ the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’ according to whether the data supports the conclusion being assessed.

In many ways, these questions are similar to syllogisms – it’s all about logic rather than assumption, reason over plausibility.

For example:DM Info 1

All four of these charts relate to quintiles in income level and related facts regarding their food spend, average calorie intake, ‘nutrition score’ and life expectancy. There is a lot of data and it’s tempting to try and absorb it all but you need to learn to concentrate on the aspects which are pertinent. Not every data point will be relevant for every question and many data points will not be part of any question.

Let’s try a question:

Eating a highly nutritious diet can help you live for longer.                     Yes or No?

Note – we only need to look at the green and blue charts for this question. Here we are being invited to assume that the correlations we are being shown in the charts are also causations…. Which we can’t do. It seems plausible as an assumption but it isn’t valid as a conclusion. After all – there are multiple variables which may contribute to a longer (or shorter) life and the information we have is in no way sufficient to conclude a causal link. The answer is No. It is NOT a logical conclusion.

People in the bottom quintile spend more on food than those in the top quintile                                                                                                                       Yes or No?

We only need to look at the red chart for this question. This seems like a slam-dunk – obviously the bottom quintile people spend 35% of their income on food whilst the top quintile spend a mere 18% of their income on food. The thing to note here is that we are talking about percentages rather than actual figures. 18% of £100,000 (£18,000) is more than 35% of £10,0000 (£3,500). This is neither a logical assumption or a conclusion as long as you read the data correctly. The answer is clearly No.

The top quintile consumes less calories than the other groups.              Yes or No?

We only need to look at the yellow chart for this question. This is true. The calorie information given clearly shows that the higher the quintile the fewer calories are consumed on average. This is a valid conclusion.

As you can see – there is a great deal of data but each question only needed a small part of it. It’s important to properly understand the data given – is it numbers or percentages? Is a causal link shown or simply implied? Is it plausible but not definite (answer no!) or clearly the only logical conclusion (answer yes!)?

 

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