INTRODUCTIONA growing body of research has indicated that variations in anchoring can be used
to identify a person or group of persons’ performance to a related topic ( e.g., Whyte &
Sebenius, 1997; Chapman & Bronstein, 1996; Jacowitz & Kahneman, 1995). Much of
today’s research is influenced by what has been termed anchoring effects (Cowart, 1994;
Sawyer & Wesenten, 1994; Mori & Ward, 1995). Anchoring maintains that the ending
effects of a non-predetermined outcome may be related to a previous acceptance of that
outcome. Therefore, an acceptance of an outcome may enhance or decrease a person’s
ability to perform that task.
Sawyer and Weseten (1997) wrote that the major effect of anchoring is not just the
estimation of the complexity, but more importantly the discrimination of a problem.
Subjects tend to show patterns of discrimination in problem solving skills. When told to
solve a problem, they not only judge the complexity of a problem, they consider all the
extremes rather than consider a solution to a propose ending. In other words, subjects use
early anchoring technique to determine their estimation of the proposed task.
Jacowitz and Kahneman (1995) argue that such early estimations may be a form
of “misleading goals” (page 1163). Those who readily set higher goals may, in some way,
be effortlessly effecting judgments of others (Chapman & Bronstein, 1996). Chapman and
Bronstein (1996) found that people in personnel injury cases will usually get more from
the verdict if they simply ask for more in the proposal of their case. Even if the
defendant’s party settles out of court, the plaintiff will receive more capital if he or she just
asks for more in the beginning
In 1996, Ritov studied the effects of anchoring by conducted a study that looked at
competitive market negations in a simulated setting. He found that initial offers for both
the buyer and the seller were highly effective in the final profit of the negotiation. Those
who set elevated prices as the seller could effect the final outcome. For example, we pay
a dollar a gallon for gasoline when it also costs us a dollar for sixteen ounces of our
favorite soft-drink. When two things are anchored together like that, it makes it easy to
manipulate the decision of either the buyer or the seller. Ritov (1996) also found that “the
role of experience was examined and the joint profit was found to increase with learning,
stemming from improved value of the initial offer from the perspective of the
non-initiator” (p. 24).
Anchoring in terms of possible answers were studied by Wilson, Houston, and
others in 1996. They gave an anchor as a possible answer to a target question and found
that uninformative numerical anchors effect the judgment even when people are not asked
to compare this number to the target value(page 401). It just shows that anchoring
effects the way we perceive a situation to be even if such material is unrelated.
One of the most effective studies on anchoring accord in the fall of 1991. Two
students, Switzer and Sneizek, at Clemson University calculated the effects of anchoring
on the effort of performance judgments. Results indicated that both relevant and
irrelevant information have strong anchoring effects on effort and performance judgments.
If it is assumed that anchoring effects are tightly correlated with predetermining
factors such as hypothetical logic, then test scores of students should be predetermining
also. I hope to show that the first test scores of a group will be effected by the opinion
that his or her score is high or low compared to others in the class. If they believe their
score to be higher or lower than others, then the final outcome of the class will be
consequently higher or lower.
I decided to chose one hundred and seventy-six subjects for this study. These subjects
were chosen from five sections of Psychology 200. The sections ranged from spring of
1995 to the spring of 1997. To protect the validity of the study, the subjects were
unaware of their participation, and did not know that their test scores would be studied.
Insuring the privacy of the participants, in no time were the subjects’ test scores congruent
with the subjects name.
The only materials needed for this study were the first test score and the final average of
that person’s overall grade. All one hundred seventy-six scores were comprised of five
sections of Psychology 200.
After collecting data from all five semesters of the Psy 200 classes, I entered it in to SPSS. I arranged the data by dividing it in to two seperate groups (first test, and final score). I then ran a one-way ANOVA to calculate and compare means. After concluding that there was a significant difference in the ANOVA, I ran a Tukeys HSD to find which group was different.
To calculate the means of the study, I used SPSS to run a standard one-way ANOVA.
The results of the one-way ANOVA were significant, F(3,172) = 3.693, p < .01.
Although the ANOVA showed a significant value for the 176 subjects, I wasn’t for sure
which of the four groups were different from each other.
To determine the significance of each group I ran a Post Hoc Tukey HSD. The values of
the Tukey HSD for each group, with a .05 significance level, were only different for the
forth and final group (low group). This group was significantly different to all of the
previous three groups.
The four groups also showed a visible difference in the calculated mean score.
Comparing the four groups’ mean score, the high, above average, and the below average
all showed a decrease in the calculated mean score. The lowest group was the only group
to show an improvement in overall test scores.
The present data are congruent with the anchoring theory. As I hypothesized, the lower group did show a significant change to the anchoring of the first test, unlike the higher three groups. Although the highest three groups did exit the course with a higher overall grade, all three of these groups actually decreased in calculated mean score.
One one of the problems that I was aware that I might have in this study was the regression towards the mean theory. Since the study was arranged in a fashion of comparing means of a pretest and posttest fashion, a regression toward the mean was allmost inevitable.
The average mean of the first exam was 79.61. An equal amount of groups were both higher and lower than that of the average mean. After the comparison of the first exam to the final score in the class, the third group (below average) also decreased it`s mean value. In conclusion, I strongly believe that anchoring is present in one`s ablility to perceive a solution to a problem.
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