Abstract for: Stock and Flow Failure: Initial Stock and Priming

The Stock and Flows (SF) failure is a robust difficulty in people's understanding of accumulation. Although it has been suggested that people use the wrong cognitive representation in solving SF problems (e.g. the classical People in the Store problem, PinS), we know little of what that mental representation people use. It has been suggested through verbal protocols that the initial stock value plays an important role in the way people answer stock questions in the PinS problem. In this research we investigate the value of knowing the initial stock and the value of introducing the concept of accumulation (priming) with a simple and familiar problem (The party-in-the-house, PinH problem). We found that providing the initial stock value is important to increase the accuracy in the traditional PinS task, particularly by reducing the number of "cannot be determined" answers in these problems. The value of a simple and familiar induction graph is less clear.