Confidence is a fundamental concept in statistics, but there is a tendency to misinterpret it as probability. In this paper, I argue that an intuitively and mathematically more appropriate interpretation of confidence is through belief/plausibility functions, in particular, those that satisfy a certain validity property. Given their close connection with confidence, it is natural to ask how a valid belief/plausibility function can be constructed directly. The inferential model (IM) framework provides such a construction, and here I prove a complete-class theorem stating that, for every nominal confidence region, there exists a valid IM whose plausibility regions are contained by the given confidence region. This characterization has implications for statistics understanding and communication, and highlights the importance of belief functions and the IM framework.
➤ Version 2 (2020-09-21)
Ryan Martin (2018). A mathematical characterization of confidence as valid belief. Researchers.One, https://researchers.one/articles/notes-statistics-and-sampling-distributions/5f52699b36a3e45f17ae7d2c/v2.