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Benford's LawTheory and Applications$
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Steven J. Miller

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691147611

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691147611.001.0001

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Psychology and Benfordʼs Law

Psychology and Benfordʼs Law

(p.267) Chapter Fourteen Psychology and Benfordʼs Law
Benford's Law

Bruce D. Burns

Jonathan Krygier

Princeton University Press

This chapter outlines recent research showing that people can approximate Benford's law when generating meaningful numbers in psychology. A common theme in recent research into reasoning and decision-making has been that people are influenced by statistical relationships in the environment. However, because it is hard to know the precise statistical relationships an individual has experienced over their lifetime, rarely is it possible to test whether people are truly acting precisely in accord with an unknown naturally occurring statistical relationship. Benford's law provides an interesting test case in this regard because it is a precise statistical relationship that is both widespread and little known to the public. Hence, the chapter reveals that Benford's law has theoretical implications for decision-making research, practical implications for fraud detection, and may help cast light on Benford's law as a property of natural data.

Keywords:   psychology, meaningful numbers, statistical relationship, decision-making research, fraud, natural data, behavioral approaches

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