By relative I mean: it depends on the manner in which each person processes numbers. It might even depend on how each person feels on the day.
It is uncommon for someone to sit back and think through the “way” they understand numbers. I did this effort and aside from a headache I realised I get numbers in terms of the “distances” between them. How close is 6 to 10 as opposed to 5 to 10 or 0.859 to 10?, for instance.
I draw the distances between figures to then translate the result I am after. Typically, the larger the distance, the bigger the problem… For illustrative purposes, it is very much like adding and subtracting vectors. I am grateful for this as pricing ploys don’t “work” so well on me: when I see £1.99 I associate it with £2 and think “clearly £0.99 doesn’t make much of a difference to them”. Having said this, the look of the product gets me every time, so no loss to the seller there. At least it isn’t the “price’s look” that gets me…
Perhaps it is through my academic and professional experience that I have come to immediately understand numbers by the value they actually represent (always in comparison to a budget allocation or my own income…).
It is my belief that we all process numbers differently and that, by making an effort to understand each other’s “methodology” with numbers, communication becomes that much easier. Especially when it comes to teaching or analysing figures in a group.
Now that you know I work in Finance, how do you understand numbers?