Mathematically Modeling Anchoring Effects


This article proposes a method by which anchoring effects can be mathematically modeled. Anchoring effects are a type of assimilation effect; so this article proposes using Anderson’s (1965; 1981) integration model to model anchoring effects, as it is typically used to model other assimilation effects. The difficulty in using the integration model is that doing so requires that the modeler knows or is able to estimate participants’ unbiased estimates (i.e., what their estimates would have been had they never seen the anchor) and this information is not available from conventional anchoring effect paradigms. A method for estimating unbiased estimates is proposed. This method is used to estimate unbiased estimates for a set of anchoring effect data and the integration model is fit to these data. This article closes by speculating on possible theoretical insights into anchoring effects that might be gleaned by using the proposed methodology and possible practical applications.

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