Objectives: Our aim is to provide an overview of key research findings from cognitive psychology regarding effective ways of communicating statistical information, and to point out the implications of these findings for genetic testing. Method: We review the literature on the presentation of statistical information in diagnostic test results, discuss various representations that invite misunderstandings, and propose alternative representations that foster understanding. Results: Single-event probabilities, conditional probabilities and relative risks are easily misunderstood. Specifying the class of events to which a probability refers and using natural frequency statements improve understanding. Conclusions: Cognitive psychology has identified simple and effective tools for improving statistical reasoning. They can help to improve the public’s understanding of diagnostic test results.

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