Research Publication Title

Influence of Anchors on Numeric and Non-Numeric Judgments

Major

psychology

Faculty Mentor

Diana Young

Keywords

psychology, anchoring bias, numeric, non-numeric, anchors, cognitive bias, judgments

Abstract

Individuals regularly make judgments about aspects of the world (e.g. time, probability, number of things, etc.) based on partial information. During these judgments, the anchoring bias can occur when subjects are exposed to a relevant or irrelevant piece of information that can influence their judgments on subsequent decisions. The effect of anchoring on numeric judgments has been investigated extensively. In previous studies, participants would be given a high or low numeric anchor and their following judgments would be observed for bias. There is some emerging evidence supporting the hypothesis that non-numeric judgments can also be influenced by anchors, however to our knowledge, no published works have directly compared the effect of anchoring on numeric and non-numeric judgments. The overarching goal of this study, then, is to examine whether non-numeric anchors influence the judgments made by the participant to the same degree that numeric anchors do. In addition to the classic numeric trial (e.g. estimating the true population of a state), all participants also make judgments in two forms of non-numeric trials. Quasi-numeric trials require participants to make judgments about a target subject matter comparatively instead of numerically (e.g. selecting a city whose population most closely matches that of a target city). Non-numeric trials require participants to make judgments about the color of a target object comparatively. Plausible high or low anchors for each trial are randomly assigned to participants at the beginning of the study session. As expected, all numeric trials resulted in significant anchoring effects. However, only one non-numeric and no quasi-numeric trials showed significant results. A follow up study is currently be conducted to further look into the effects of the anchoring bias on non-numeric and quasi-numeric judgments.

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Influence of Anchors on Numeric and Non-Numeric Judgments

Individuals regularly make judgments about aspects of the world (e.g. time, probability, number of things, etc.) based on partial information. During these judgments, the anchoring bias can occur when subjects are exposed to a relevant or irrelevant piece of information that can influence their judgments on subsequent decisions. The effect of anchoring on numeric judgments has been investigated extensively. In previous studies, participants would be given a high or low numeric anchor and their following judgments would be observed for bias. There is some emerging evidence supporting the hypothesis that non-numeric judgments can also be influenced by anchors, however to our knowledge, no published works have directly compared the effect of anchoring on numeric and non-numeric judgments. The overarching goal of this study, then, is to examine whether non-numeric anchors influence the judgments made by the participant to the same degree that numeric anchors do. In addition to the classic numeric trial (e.g. estimating the true population of a state), all participants also make judgments in two forms of non-numeric trials. Quasi-numeric trials require participants to make judgments about a target subject matter comparatively instead of numerically (e.g. selecting a city whose population most closely matches that of a target city). Non-numeric trials require participants to make judgments about the color of a target object comparatively. Plausible high or low anchors for each trial are randomly assigned to participants at the beginning of the study session. As expected, all numeric trials resulted in significant anchoring effects. However, only one non-numeric and no quasi-numeric trials showed significant results. A follow up study is currently be conducted to further look into the effects of the anchoring bias on non-numeric and quasi-numeric judgments.