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Exp Psychol. 2017 May;64(3):170-183. doi: 10.1027/1618-3169/a000361.

On the Inability to Ignore Useless Advice.

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1 Institute of Psychology, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany.
2 Leibniz Science Campus "Primate Cognition," Göttingen, Germany.
3 Institute of Psychology, University of Hildesheim, Germany.


Research in the judge-advisor-paradigm suggests that advice is generally utilized less than it should be according to its quality. In a series of four experiments, we challenge this widely held assumption. We hypothesize that when advice quality is low, the opposite phenomenon, namely overutilization of advice, occurs. We further assume that this overutilization effect is the result of anchoring: advice serves as an anchor, thus causing an adjustment toward even useless advice. The data of our four experiments support these hypotheses. Judges systematically adjusted their estimates toward advice that we introduced to them as being useless, and this effect was stable after controlling for intentional utilization of this advice. Furthermore, we demonstrate that anchoring-based adjustment toward advice is independent of advice quality. Our findings enhance our understanding of the processes involved in advice taking and identify a potential threat to judgment accuracy arising from an inability to discount useless advice.


advice taking; anchoring; decision-making; judgment; social influence

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