The long and short of it: Physical anchoring effects

Robyn A. LeBoeuf, Eldar Shafir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Attempts to reconstruct the magnitude of recently encountered physical stimuli were influenced by the provision of physical anchors. Whether estimating length, weight, or loudness, those increasing the magnitude of a relatively small (short, light, or quiet) physical anchor produced estimates that were reliably lower than did those decreasing the magnitude of a relatively large (long, heavy, or loud) anchor. Estimates produced without an anchor were also low, suggesting that when people physically adjust upwards from a self-selected starting point, "no anchor" may, in fact, act as a very low anchor. Physical anchors appear to influence estimates of recently encountered physical stimuli, much as numerical anchors influence estimates of more abstract numerical quantities. Implications for processes underlying anchoring, adjustment, and related tasks are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-406
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


  • Adjustment
  • Anchoring
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Magnitude estimation
  • Psychophysics


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