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Journal Article

Are Adjustments Insufficient?

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

2004

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Citation

Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2004). Are adjustments insufficient?Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30,447-460.

Abstract
Many judgmental biases are thought to be the product of insufficient adjustment from an initial anchor value. Nearly all existing evidence of insufficient adjustment, however, comes from an experimental paradigm that evidence indicates does not involve adjustment at all. In this article, the authors first provide further evidence that some kinds of anchors (those that are self-generated and known to be incorrect but close to the correct answer) activate processes of adjustment, whereas others (uncertain anchors provided by an external source) do not. It is then shown that adjustment from self-generated anchors does indeed tend to be insufficient, both by comparing the estimates of participants starting from different anchor values and by comparing estimates with actual answers. Thus, evidence is provided of adjustment-based anchoring effects similar to the accessibility-based anchoring effects observed in the traditional anchoring paradigm, supporting theories of social judgment that rely on mechanisms of insufficient adjustment.
Journal Article

Balance where it really counts

Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Nicholas Epley, Leaf Van Boven, Eugene M. Caruso

2004

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Citation

Epley, N., Van Boven, L., & Caruso, E. (2004). Balance where it really counts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences,27, 33.

Abstract
A balanced approach that considers human strengths and weaknesses will lead to a more flattering set of empirical findings, but will distract researchers from focusing on the mental processes that produce such findings and will diminish the practical implications of their work. Psychologists ought to be doing research that is theoretically informative and practically relevant, exactly as they are doing.
Book Chapter

A tale of tuned decks? Anchoring as accessibility and anchoring as adjustment

Blackwell Handbook of Judgment and Decision Making

Nicholas Epley

2004

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Citation

Epley, N. (2004). A Tale of Tuned Decks? Anchoring as accessibility and anchoring as adjustment. In D.J. Koehler, & N. Harvey (Eds.), The Blackwell Handbook of Judgment and Decision Making (pp. 240-256). Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell Publishers.

Abstract
This chapter is intended to add one of the most widely studied biases in human judgment to this list of psychological "tuned decks"--judgmental anchoring. Across ever-expanding domains, people's estimates of uncertain qualities are biased in the direction of a salient comparison value or "anchor." Although easy to demonstrate, such anchoring biases have not been so easy to explain (Strack & Mussweiler, 1997). One reason for this difficulty, it appears, is that psychologists have been seeking a single solution. In fact, judgmental anchoring is not a single mental trick but a set of tricks. How many tricks? At least two.
Journal Article

The unpacking effect in evaluative judgments: When the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Leaf Van Boven, Nicholas Epley

2003

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Citation

Van Boven, L., & Epley, N. (2003). The unpacking effect in evaluative judgments: When the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 263-269.

Abstract
Any category or event can be described in more or less detail. Although these different descriptions can reflect the same event objectively, they may not reflect the same event subjectively. Research on Support Theory led us to predict that more detailed descriptions would produce more extreme evaluations of categories or events than less detailed descriptions. Four experiments demonstrated this unpacking effect when people were presented with (Experiments 1 and 4), generated (Experiment 2), or were primed with (Experiment 3) more rather than less detailed descriptions of events. This effect was diminished when the details were less personally relevant (Experiment 4). We discuss several psychological mechanisms, moderators, and extensions of the unpacking effect.
Journal Article

Empathy Neglect: Reconciling the Spotlight Effect and the Correspondence Bias

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, Kenneth Savitsky, Thomas Gilovich

2002

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Citation

Epley, N., Savitsky, K., & Gilovich, T. (2002). Empathy Neglect: Reconciling the spotlight effect and the correspondence bias. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 300-312.

Abstract
When people commit an embarrassing blunder, they typically overestimate how harshly they will be judged by others. This tendency can seem to fly in the face of research on the correspondence bias, which has established that observers are, in fact, quite likely to draw harsh dispositional inferences about others. These seemingly inconsistent literatures are reconciled by showing that actors typically neglect to consider the extent to which observers will moderate their correspondent inferences when they can easily adopt an actor's perspective or imagine being in his or her shoes. These results help to explain why actors can overestimate the strength of observers' dispositional inferences even when, as the literature on the correspondence bias attests, observers are notoriously prone to drawing those very inferences.
Journal Article

Putting Adjustment Back in the Anchoring and Adjustment Heuristic: Differential Processing of Self-Generated and Experimenter-Provided Anchors

Psychological Science

Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

2001

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Citation

Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2001). Putting adjustment back in the anchoring and adjustment heuristic: Divergent processing of self-generated and experimenter-provided anchors. Psychological Science, 12, 391-396.

Abstract
People's estimates of uncertain quantities are commonly influenced by irrelevant values. These anchoring effects were originally explained as insufficient adjustment away from an initial anchor value. The existing literature provides little support for the postulated process of adjustment, however, and a consensus that none takes place seems to be emerging. We argue that this conclusion is premature, and we present evidence that insufficient adjustment produces anchoring effects when the anchors are self-generated. In Study 1, participants' verbal reports made reference to adjustment only, from self-generated anchors. In Studies 2 and 3, participants induced to accept values by nodding their heads gave answers that were closer to an anchor (i.e., they adjusted less) than participants induced to deny values by shaking their heads--again, only when the anchor was self-generated. These results suggest it is time to reintroduce anchoring and adjustment as an explanation for some judgments under uncertainty.
Journal Article

Do Others Judge Us as Harshly as We Think? Overestimating the Impact of Our Failures, Shortcomings, and Mishaps

JPSP

Kenneth Savitsky, Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

2001

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Citation

Savitsky, K., Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2001). Do others judge us as harshly as we think? Overestimating the impact of our failures, shortcomings, and mishaps. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 44-56.

Abstract
When people suffer an embarrassing blunder, social mishap, or public failure, they often feel that their image has been severely tarnished in the eyes of others. Four studies demonstrate that these fears are commonly exaggerated. Actors who imagined committing one of several social blunders (Study 1), who experienced a public intellectual failure (Studies 2 and 3), or who were described in an embarrassing way (Study 4) anticipated being judged more harshly by others than they actually were. These exaggerated fears were produced, in part, by the actors' tendency to be inordinately focused on their misfortunes and by their resulting failure to consider the wider range of situational factors that tend to moderate onlookers' impressions. Discussion focuses on additional mechanisms that may contribute to overly pessimistic expectations as well as the role of such expectations in producing unnecessary social anxiety.
Journal Article

Feeling "Holier Than Thou": Are Self-Serving Assessments Produced by Errors in Self- or Social Prediction?

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, David Dunning

2000

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Citation

Epley, N., & Dunning, D. (2000). Feeling “Holier than thou”: Are self-serving assessments produced by errors in self or social prediction?Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 861-875.

Abstract
People typically believe they are more likely to engage in selfless, kind, and generous behaviors than their peers, a result that is both logically and statistically suspect. However, this oft-documented tendency presents an important ambiguity. Do people feel "holier than thou" because they harbor overly cynical views of their peers (but accurate impressions of themselves) or overly charitable views of themselves (and accurate impressions of their peers)? Four studies suggested it was the latter. Participants consistently overestimated the likelihood that they would act in generous or selfless ways, whereas their predictions of others were considerably more accurate. Two final studies suggest this divergence in accuracy arises, in part, because people are unwilling to consult population base rates when predicting their own behavior but use this diagnostic information more readily when predicting others'.
Journal Article

Just Going Along: Nonconscious Priming and Conformity to Social Pressure

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

1999

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Citation

Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (1999). Just going along: Nonconscious priming and conformity to social pressure. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 578-589.

Abstract
This research investigates whether conformity can be elicited or suppressed by nonconscious priming. In Experiment 1, participants were primed for either conformity or nonconformity using a scrambled sentences task and later placed into a conformity situation. As predicted, participants primed with conformity expressed views that were more similar to those of experimental confederates than did participants primed with nonconformity. To investigate whether the influence of the primes was symmetric, Experiment 2 included a neutral prime condition. Participants primed with conformity again tended to conform more than those in the other two groups, but the nonconformity primes did not induce participants to rebel against the group norm. Discussion focuses on the asymmetry in the effectiveness of the conformity and nonconformity primes.
Journal Article

What Every Skeptic Should Know About Subliminal Persuasion

Skeptical Inquirer

Nicholas Epley, Kenneth Savitsky, Robert A. Kachelski

1999

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Citation

Epley, N., Savitsky, K., & Kachelski, R.A. (1999). What every skeptic should know about subliminal persuasion.Skeptical Inquirer, 23, 40-45,58.

Abstract
Classic research by cognitive and social psychologists suggests that subliminally presented stimuli can be perceived and can influence individuals’ low-level cognitions. More recent investigations suggest that such stimuli can also affect individuals’ high-level cognitive processes, including attitudes, preferences, judgments, and even their behavior.
Journal Article

Suspicion, Affective Response, and Educational Benefit as a Result of Deception in Psychology Research

Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin

Nicholas Epley, Chuck Huff

1998

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Citation

Epley, N., & Huff, C. (1998). Suspicion, affective response, and educational benefit as a result of deception in psychology research. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24, 759-768.

Abstract
This research evaluated participants' reactions to deception in experiments by having them participate in a replication of a deception experiment. Half of the participants were made aware of this deception immediately, whereas the other half were not. Participants reported little negative impact from being deceived, but significant negative effects were reported on the basis of receiving negative feedback (a manipulation in the deception experiment). Furthermore, participants who were informed of the deception became more suspicious than uninformed participants, and this effect lasted for 3 months after the initial experience. Thus, deception may not be as costly to participants as commonly believed. From a cost-benefit standpoint, other issues (e.g., suspicion and negative stimuli in experiments) should be of greater concern.