Anchoring on the "Here" and "Now" in Time and Distance Judgments

Robyn A. LeBoeuf, Eldar Shafir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Time and distance estimates were elicited with either unit-based (e.g., "How many days until...") or end-based (e.g., "On what date...") questions. For intervals of uncertain extent, unit-based estimates were consistently lower than were the corresponding end-based estimates. The observed patterns are consistent with an anchoring and adjustment process: When people generate unit-based estimates of uncertain dates or distances, they may anchor on the "here" or "now" and adjust incrementally by the unit; such adjustment, however, is often insufficient and yields systematic underestimation. Although this anchoring and adjustment cannot be directly observed, consistent with the hypothesized process, reliance on larger units yielded higher estimates and warning about insufficient adjustment reduced the effect. Implications for research on anchoring, the planning fallacy, and everyday judgment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-93
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


  • anchoring and adjustment
  • distance estimation
  • judgment
  • planning fallacy
  • time perception


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