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Cognitive Processing

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 321–332 | Cite as

Anchor effects in decision making can be reduced by the interaction between goal monitoring and the level of the decision maker’s executive functions

  • Johannes SchiebenerEmail author
  • Elisa Wegmann
  • Mirko Pawlikowski
  • Matthias Brand
Research Report

Abstract

Models of decision making postulate that interactions between contextual conditions and characteristics of the decision maker determine decision-making performance. We tested this assumption by using a possible positive contextual influence (goals) and a possible negative contextual influence (anchor) in a risky decision-making task (Game of Dice Task, GDT). In this task, making advantageous choices is well known to be closely related to a specific decision maker variable: the individual level of executive functions. One hundred subjects played the GDT in one of four conditions: with self-set goal for final balance (n = 25), with presentation of an anchor (a fictitious Top 10 list, showing high gains of other participants; n = 25), with anchor and goal definition (n = 25), and with neither anchor nor goal setting (n = 25). Subjects in the conditions with anchor made more risky decisions irrespective of the negative feedback, but this anchor effect was influenced by goal monitoring and moderated by the level of the subjects’ executive functions. The findings imply that impacts of situational influences on decision making as they frequently occur in real life depend upon the individual’s cognitive abilities. Anchor effects can be overcome by subjects with good cognitive abilities.

Keywords

Decision making under risk Game of Dice Task Anchor effect Goal monitoring Executive functions 

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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Schiebener
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elisa Wegmann
    • 1
  • Mirko Pawlikowski
    • 1
  • Matthias Brand
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.General Psychology: CognitionUniversity of Duisburg-EssenDuisburgGermany
  2. 2.Erwin L. Hahn Institute for Magnetic Resonance ImagingEssenGermany

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