Abstract for: Chinese students’ mathematical knowledge beats their domain experience and global cognitive styles in stock-and-flow problems

People’s understanding of accumulation (stock) and rates of change (flow) is key to successful decision making in dynamic environments. Previous studies have shown that most people make persistent errors when inferring the behavior of accumulation over time, termed stock-flow (SF) failure. The most common mistake is correlation heuristic, used by people who erroneously assuming that the behavior of a stock matches the pattern of its flows. In this paper, we report an experiment intended to test whether mathematical knowledge, global/local processing style or domain experience affected SF failure or the use of correlation heuristic. The clearest finding is that mathematical knowledge is a strong indicator for overcoming SF failure. We discuss the three factors’ role in participants’ SF task performance and future research for SF studies.