Procedural debiasing of primacy/anchoring effects in clinical-like judgments

J Clin Psychol. 1995 Nov;51(6):841-53. doi: 10.1002/1097-4679(199511)51:6<841::aid-jclp2270510617>;2-k.


Primacy (or anchoring) effects in clinical judgment occur when information presented at an early stage unduly influences a judgment compared to the effect of the same information presented at a later stage. Using recent theoretical models of these effects, three debiasing methods were developed and tested for their efficacy. Contrary to some recent failures to find anchoring effects, both single-cue and sequence anchoring manipulations produced medium-size effects on personality trait ratings and generalized to predictions of behavior. A consider-the-opposite procedure that involved cue sorting by diagnosticity debiased single-cue anchoring, but comparable results were obtained by subjects who simply took notes while reviewing each cue prior to judgment. Bias inoculation was marginally successful at reducing single-cue anchoring. Methodological issues as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bias
  • Cues*
  • Effect Modifier, Epidemiologic
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Memory
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychometrics*
  • Texas
  • Time Factors