Extremeness Aversion Is a Cause of Anchoring

Lewis, J., Gaertig, C., & Simmons, J. P. (2019). Extremeness Aversion Is a Cause of Anchoring. Psychological Science, 30(2), 159–173. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797618799305.

15 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2018 Last revised: 15 Feb 2019

See all articles by Joshua Lewis

Joshua Lewis

University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School, Operations & Information Management Department, Students

Celia Gaertig

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Joseph P. Simmons

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Date Written: July 16, 2018

Abstract

When estimating unknown quantities, people insufficiently adjust from values they have previously considered, a phenomenon known as anchoring. We suggest that anchoring is at least partially caused by a desire to avoid making extreme adjustments. In seven studies (N = 5,279), we found that transparently irrelevant cues of extremeness influenced people’s adjustments from anchors. In Studies 1-6, participants were less likely to adjust beyond a particular amount when that amount was closer to the maximum allowable adjustment. For example, in Study 5, participants were less likely to adjust by at least 6 units when they were allowed to adjust by a maximum of 6 units than by a maximum of 15 units. In Study 7, participants adjusted less after considering whether an outcome would be within a smaller distance of the anchor. These results suggest that anchoring effects may reflect a desire to avoid adjustments that feel too extreme.

Keywords: Anchoring, Extremeness Aversion, Insufficient Adjustment

Suggested Citation

Lewis, Joshua and Gaertig, Celia and Simmons, Joseph P., Extremeness Aversion Is a Cause of Anchoring (July 16, 2018). Lewis, J., Gaertig, C., & Simmons, J. P. (2019). Extremeness Aversion Is a Cause of Anchoring. Psychological Science, 30(2), 159–173. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797618799305.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3214587

Joshua Lewis (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School, Operations & Information Management Department, Students ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Celia Gaertig

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Joseph P. Simmons

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3733 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6374
United States

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