How numeric advice precision affects advice taking

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Advice is a powerful means to improve peoples' judgments and decisions. Because advice quality is rarely apparent, decision‐makers must infer it from the characteristics of the advisor or the advice itself. Here, we focus on a largely neglected advice characteristic that should signal quality: advice precision. In a preregistered, high‐powered study (N = 195), we tested the effects of advice precision on advice taking. Drawing from past research and theorizing on anchor precision, we derived and tested two competing hypotheses for the relation of advice precision and advice taking—one predicting a monotone increase in advice taking when advice precision increases and the other predicting a backfiring effect of overly precise advice resulting in an inverted U‐shape. Our results support the notion of a monotone, albeit not a strong monotone, relationship. Higher perceived advice quality correlated with individuals' advice taking. Consistent with the idea that advice precision serves as a cue for advice quality, the effect of advice precision on advice taking was statistically mediated by perceived advice quality. Although the mediation analysis does not allow for causal interpretation because we did not manipulate the mediating variable, it shows that the effect of advice precision on advice taking is not merely a demand effect. Implications of our findings for theory and practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)303-310
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 07.2021

    Research areas

  • Business psychology - advice taking, judment and decision making, numerical precision, social influence