Kevin Lewis

October 06, 2019

The implicit honesty premium: Why honest advice is more persuasive than highly informed advice
Uriel Haran & Shaul Shalvi
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Recipients of advice expect it to be both highly informed and honest. Suspecting either one of these attributes reduces the use of the advice. Does the degree of advice use depend on the reason for suspecting its accuracy? Five experiments tested the effect of the type of suspicion on advice taking. We find that recipients of advice discount it more severely when they suspect intentional bias than when they suspect unintentional error, for example, due to the advisor's insufficient knowledge. The effect persisted when we controlled for, and disclosed, the actual accuracy of the advice; it persisted when participants' own evaluations of the quality of the advice, as well as their desire to receive it, were equally high under both types of suspicion. Finally, we find the effect of suspicion on advice use stems from the different attributions of uncertainty associated with each type of suspicion. The results suggest people place an implicit premium on advisors' honesty, and demonstrate the importance of establishing reputation for advisors' success.

Judgments Based on Stocks and Flows: Different Presentations of the Same Data Can Lead to Opposing Inferences
Stephen Spiller, Nicholas Reinholtz & Sam Maglio
Management Science, forthcoming

Time-series data - measurements of a quantity over time - can be presented as stocks (the quantity at each point in time) or flows (the change in quantity from one point in time to the next). In a series of six experiments, we find that the choice of presenting data as stocks or flows can have a consequential impact on judgments. The same data can lead to positive or negative assessments when presented as stocks versus flows and can engender optimistic or pessimistic forecasts for the future. For example, when employment data from 2007 to 2013 are shown as flows (jobs created or lost), President Obama's impact on the economy during his first year in office is viewed positively, whereas when the same data are shown as stocks (total jobs), his impact is viewed negatively. The results highlight a challenge that accompanies the growing reliance on data and analytics for decision making within organizations: seemingly benign choices - such as that between two informationally equivalent data presentations - can substantively impact how data are interpreted and used, even though the underlying information is the same.

Despite high objective numeracy, lower numeric confidence relates to worse financial and medical outcomes
Ellen Peters et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 24 September 2019, Pages 19386-19391

People often laugh about being "no good at math." Unrecognized, however, is that about one-third of American adults are likely too innumerate to operate effectively in financial and health environments. Two numeric competencies conceivably matter - objective numeracy (ability to "run the numbers" correctly; like literacy but with numbers) and numeric self-efficacy (confidence that provides engagement and persistence in numeric tasks). We reasoned, however, that attaining objective numeracy's benefits should depend on numeric confidence. Specifically, among the more objectively numerate, having more numeric confidence (vs. less) should lead to better outcomes because they persist in numeric tasks and have the skills to support numeric success. Among the less objectively numerate, however, having more (vs. less) numeric confidence should hurt outcomes, as they also persist, but make unrecognized mistakes. Two studies were designed to test the generalizability of this hypothesized interaction. We report secondary analysis of financial outcomes in a diverse US dataset and primary analysis of disease activity among systemic lupus erythematosus patients. In both domains, best outcomes appeared to require numeric calculation skills and the persistence of numeric confidence. "Mismatched" individuals (high ability/low confidence or low ability/high confidence) experienced the worst outcomes. For example, among the most numerate patients, only 7% of the more numerically confident had predicted disease activity indicative of needing further treatment compared with 31% of high-numeracy/low-confidence patients and 44% of low-numeracy/high-confidence patients. Our work underscores that having 1 of these competencies (objective numeracy or numeric self-efficacy) does not guarantee superior outcomes.

At what age does the anchoring heuristic emerge? Evidence from Jeopardy!
Michael Jetter & Jay Walker
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Accessing data from the US game show Jeopardy!, we investigate the anchoring phenomenon among kids (aged 10-12 years; 182 observations), teenagers (aged 13-17 years; 606 observations), and undergraduate college students (559 observations). We focus on Daily Double clues where a contestant can wager on their correct response immediately after an initial clue value has been made salient (e.g., "I choose [the clue category] World Capitals for $600!"). Crucially, the show's rules and identifiable strategies provide no rational reason why the initial clue value should serve as an anchor for the subsequent wager. Our results produce no statistically discernible evidence consistent with anchoring in kids and teenagers once we account for contestants' scores as an important determinant of wagers. However, college students appear to anchor their wager strongly on the initial clue value. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that anchoring emerges in adults, but is not present among teenagers or children. Nevertheless, we advise caution in interpreting our results pertaining to kids since sample sizes are smaller and therefore estimates become less precise in statistical terms.

When does the present end and the future begin?
Hal Hershfield & Sam Maglio
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Through the process of prospection, people can mentally travel in time to summon in their mind's eye events that have yet to occur. Such depictions of the future often differ than those of the present, as do choices made for these 2 time periods. Conceptually and semantically, this research tradition presupposes a division between the 2: At some point in the progression of time, the present must yield to the future. Still, the field to date has offered little insight by way of defining the division that separates the present from the future. The basic scientific appeal and practical implications of prospection beg 2 related questions: When do people believe that the present ends and the future begins, and do such perceptions affect decision-making? To the first question, perceptions of when the present ends vary across people (Study 1) and are reliable over time (Study 2). To the second, when people believe that the present ends sooner, they are more likely to make future-oriented choices in correlational and experimental contexts, even when controlling for potentially related constructs (Studies 3-5). Finally, we identify a psychological mechanism underlying this relationship: A shorter present is associated with a sharper division from the future (Study 6a), and this sharp division accounts for future-oriented behavior toward both hypothetical (Study 6b) and incentive-compatible (Study 6c) outcomes. This research sheds light on a foundational but unexplored prerequisite for thinking and acting across time.

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