The Emerging Interplay Between Subjective and Objective Notions of Probability in Young Children

Kazak S., Leavy A.

CANADIAN JOURNAL OF SCIENCE MATHEMATICS AND TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION, vol.22, no.3, pp.538-557, 2022 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s42330-022-00227-0
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, EBSCO Education Source, ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)
  • Page Numbers: pp.538-557
  • Keywords: Subjective probability, Objective probability, Simulation, Primary school, UNCERTAINTY
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


To promote the development of young children's probabilistic intuitions through experience, we focus on the dual nature of probability related to both belief (subjective notion) and frequency (objective notion). This paper reports on the responses of 7-8-year-olds on two tasks used to bridge subjective and objective notions of probability. We explore how these two conceptions interact in children's estimations of the likelihood of outcomes from chance events as new information is obtained from data collected through physical experiments and computer simulations. Our findings suggest that even though children have not yet reached the desired level of quantitative reasoning, several used the data in a reasonable way to update their subjective probabilities based on their personal beliefs. These findings highlight the nascent potential of children to reason about probability when presented with a sequence of activities. These activities are used to support them to state their subjective probability estimations, using a contextually rich continuum, while at the same time recalibrate their estimations to more accurately reflect the theoretical probability.