Th. Mu▀weiler
A Selective Accessibility Model of Anchoring
Linking the Anchoring Heuristic to Hypothesis-Consistent 
Testing and Semantic Priming

Judgmental anchoring - the assimilation of a numeric estimate to a previously considered standard of comparison - has proved to be a pervasive phenomenon that influences judgments in a variety of domains. However, to date the mechanisms underlying this ubiquitous phenomenon remain an enigma. The current analysis suggests that linking the anchoring phenomenon to two fundamental principles of social cognition research - hypothesis-consistent testing and semantic priming - may help to solve this enigma. In particular, a Selective Accessibility Model (SAM) is proposed which suggests that judges use a hypothesis-consistent test strategy to solve a comparative anchoring task. Applying this strategy selectively increases the accessibility of anchor-consistent knowledge which is then used to generate the subsequent absolute judgment. Results of 4 studies support this assumption. Specifically, Studies 1 through 3 demonstrate that limiting the amount of knowledge generated for the comparative task retards absolute judgments. This suggests that knowledge that is rendered easily accessible in the comparative judgment is used for the absolute judgment. Finally, study 4 reveals that solving an anchoring task facilitates lexical decisions for anchor-consistent words, indicating a selective increase in the accessibility of anchor-consistent knowledge. Implications of the SAM model as well as possible applications to organizational and juridical decision making are discussed.


1997, 168 pages, ISBN 3-933151-00-7, Price:15,- Euro

Pabst Science Publishers
Eichengrund 28
D-49525 Lengerich

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