Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/806

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the limits of the guesses, one figure would occur about as often as another in units' or tens' place. It was argued, therefore, that any marked or persistent variation from such regularity in such a great number of cases would reveal what might be termed an unconscious preference for such numbers or digits for these places.

The purpose of this study, then, was to determine whether or not there existed in the popular mind, under the conditions offered, any such preferences.

After the very arduous and tedious task of collating and classifying all the guesses for men and women separately had been done, the following facts appeared:

In the first place, marked preference is shown for certain digits both for units' and tens' places. This statement is based on a study of the 6,8 G 3 guesses falling below one thousand. Of these, 4,238 were made by men and 2,625 were made by women. By tabulations of the digits used in units' place by both men and women, the following facts have been determined: 800 used 9, while but 374 used 8; 1,070 used 7, and 443 preferred 6; 881 used 5, and only 295 preferred 4; 862 chose 3, while 331 used 2; 577 ended with 1, while 1,230 preferred 0 as the last figure.

A tabulation of the figures used in tens' place shows, save in the case of 2 and 3, where 2 is used oftener than 3, the same curious preferences, but in a much less marked degree. To go into detail, 850 chose 9 for tens' place, while 559 took 8; 907 used 7, while only 637 selected 6; 748 took 5, while only 536 used 4; 601 used 3, and 634 chose 2; 728 used 1, as against 872 who used 0.

Were it not that the selections here in the main correspond with the preferences shown in units' place, the significance of these figures would be much less important; but the evidence here can not wholly be ignored when taken in connection with the facts obtained in the preferences shown in the case of the figures occupying units' place.

We are enabled, then, as a result of the study of these guesses, to say that under the conditions offered, aside from a preference of 0 over 1 to end the numbers selected, digits representing odd numbers are conspicuously preferred to those representing even numbers. How far this will hold under other conditions can not now be stated, but the facts here observed are of such a nature as to suggest the possibility of an habitual tendency in this direction. However, further investigations can alone determine whether or not this bias for certain numbers is potent in a general way.

The curve on the next page, exhibiting the results noted above, shows at a glance the marked and persistent preference for the odd numbers.