The Effect of Accuracy Motivation on Anchoring and Adjustment: Do People Adjust from Provided Anchors?

Simmons, Joseph P., Robyn A. LeBoeuf, and Leif D. Nelson (2010), “The Effect of Accuracy Motivation on Anchoring and Adjustment: Do People Adjust from Provided Anchors?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99 (December), 917-932.

16 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2007 Last revised: 24 Aug 2012

See all articles by Joseph P. Simmons

Joseph P. Simmons

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Robyn A. LeBoeuf

Washington University in St. Louis

Leif D. Nelson

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: June 30, 2010

Abstract

Increasing accuracy motivation (e.g., by providing monetary incentives for accuracy) often fails to increase adjustment away from provided anchors, a result that has led researchers to conclude that people do not effortfully adjust away from such anchors. We challenge this conclusion. First, we show that people are typically uncertain about which way to adjust from provided anchors, and that this uncertainty often causes people to believe that they have initially adjusted too far away from such anchors (Studies 1a and 1b). Then, we show that although accuracy motivation fails to increase the gap between anchors and final estimates when people are uncertain about the direction of adjustment, accuracy motivation does increase anchor-estimate gaps when people are certain about the direction of adjustment, and that this is true regardless of whether the anchors are provided or self-generated (Studies 2, 3a, 3b, and 5). These results suggest that people do effortfully adjust away from provided anchors, but that uncertainty about the direction of adjustment makes that adjustment harder to detect than previously assumed. This conclusion has important theoretical implications, suggesting that currently emphasized distinctions between anchor types (self-generated vs. provided) are not fundamental, and that ostensibly competing theories of anchoring (selective accessibility and anchoring-and-adjustment) are complementary.

Keywords: Judgment and Decision Making, Heuristics, Inferential Correction, Incentives

Suggested Citation

Simmons, Joseph P. and LeBoeuf, Robyn A. and Nelson, Leif D., The Effect of Accuracy Motivation on Anchoring and Adjustment: Do People Adjust from Provided Anchors? (June 30, 2010). Simmons, Joseph P., Robyn A. LeBoeuf, and Leif D. Nelson (2010), “The Effect of Accuracy Motivation on Anchoring and Adjustment: Do People Adjust from Provided Anchors?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99 (December), 917-932. , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=997822 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.997822

Joseph P. Simmons (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3733 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6374
United States

Robyn A. LeBoeuf

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Leif D. Nelson

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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