Prospect Theory Analysis of Guessing in Multiple Choice Tests

Yoella Bereby-Meyer*, Joachim Meyer, Oded M. Flascher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The guessing of answers in multiple choice tests adds random error to the variance of the test scores, lowering their reliability. Formula scoring rules that penalize for wrong guesses are frequently used to solve this problem. This paper uses prospect theory to analyze scoring rules from a decision-making perspective and focuses on the effects of framing on the tendency to guess. In three experiments participants were presented with hypothetical test situations and were asked to indicate the degree of certainty that they thought was required for them to answer a question. In accordance with the framing hypothesis, participants tended to guess more when they anticipated a low grade and therefore considered themselves to be in the loss domain, or when the scoring rule caused the situation to be framed as entailing potential losses. The last experiment replicated these results with a task that resembles an actual test.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-327
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Decision making
  • Framing effect
  • Multiple choice tests
  • Scoring rules


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