Thomas Schultze and Stefan Schulz-Hardt

The impact of biased information and corresponding meta-information on escalating commitment.

Journal of Economic Psychology

Research on escalation of commitment suggests that decision-makers make use of additional information when confronted with a potentially losing course of action. Veridical information is a helpful tool when deciding whether to continue or de-escalate commitment. However, field data suggests that one primary source of information, namely information provided by experts, is often biased toward the continuation of projects. This bias is partly the result of attempts to influence decision-makers to escalate their commitment. Previous research has, so far, not addressed the question of how decision-makers in an escalation context utilize meta-information that makes them aware of such biases. In three experiments, we show that decision-makers act in accordance with expert advice: they further escalate their commitment when the experts suggest continuation of a failing project, and they de-escalate their commitment when the experts argue in favor of withdrawal (Experiment 1). When participants are made aware of the possibility that the expert advice is biased, the impact of this advice is reduced (Experiment 2). Most importantly, when decision-makers were made aware beyond doubt that the experts aimed to manipulate them, they also relied on the information less, but they failed to fully ignore it (Experiment 3). In sum, our data suggest that decision-makers in an escalation context are prone to attempts at manipulation as they cannot fully ignore biased advice even when the deceptive motive of their advisors is disclosed to them. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Accession Number: 103655937; Schultze, Thomas 1; Email Address:; Schulz-Hardt, Stefan 1; Affiliations: 1: Institute of Psychology, Georg-August-University Goettingen, Germany; Issue Info: Aug2015, Vol. 49, p108; Thesaurus Term: Information resources; Thesaurus Term: Decision making; Subject Term: Prejudices; Subject Term: Commitment (Psychology); Subject Term: Manipulative behavior; Subject Term: Deception; Author-Supplied Keyword: 3660; Author-Supplied Keyword: Advice taking; Author-Supplied Keyword: D23; Author-Supplied Keyword: D81; Author-Supplied Keyword: D82; Author-Supplied Keyword: D83; Author-Supplied Keyword: Escalation of commitment; Author-Supplied Keyword: Judgment and decision making; Author-Supplied Keyword: Social influence; Author-Supplied Keyword: Sunk cost; Number of Pages: 12p; Document Type: Article