Thomas Schultze, Anne-Fernandine Rakotoarisoa and Stefan Schulz-Hardt

Effects of distance between initial estimates and advice on advice utilization

Judgment and Decision Making

Six experiments investigated how the distance between one's initial opinion and advice relates to advice utilization. Going beyond previous research, we relate advice distance to both relative adjustments and absolute adjustments towards the advice, and we also investigate a second mode of advice utilization, namely confidence shifts due to social validation. Whereas previous research suggests that advice is weighted less the more it differs from one's initial opinion, we consistently find evidence of a curvilinear pattern. Advice is weighted less when advice distance is low and when it is high. This is in particular because individuals are much more likely to retain their initial opinions in the light of near advice. Also, absolute opinion adjustments towards the advice increases in a monotone fashion as advice distance increases. This finding is in contrast to the predictions of the theoretical framework previous studies on advice distance are based on, social judgment theory. Instead, they data are more in line with a simple stimulus-response model suggesting that absolute adjustments towards the advice increase with advice distance but--potentially--with diminished sensitivity. Finally, our data show that advice can be utilized even when it receives zero weight during belief revision. The closer advice was to the initial opinions, the more it served as a means for social validation, increasing decision-makers' confidence in the accuracy of their final opinions. Thus, our findings suggest that advice utilization is a more complex function of advice distance than previously assumed.

Accession Number: 1525989; Keywords: Belief; Fashion; Individual; Publication Type: Journal Article; Update Code: 201510