The role of information presentation formats in belief updating

Yung‐Cheng Shen, Chih‐Wei Hue
Published Online:
13 Aug 2008
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 42 Issue 3

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The effects of the format by which information is presented on the cognitive processes of belief updating were investigated in the present research. Because of the differences in the affordance of verbal vs. numerical information, it is predicted that the belief updating processes involved in processing verbal and numerical information would be different. Specifically, the additive rule is used to combine information using verbal formats, while the averaging rule is used to combine information using numerical formats. Two experiments were conducted to test these hypotheses. Experiment 1 tested the belief updating process in the positive direction, and Experiment 2 tested the process in the negative direction. Two independent variables were manipulated: information presentation format (verbal vs numerical) and presentation order (strong–weak vs weak–strong). The participants were asked to adjust their purchase likelihood of a consumer product based on the sequential presentations of two experts' opinions. These two opinions varied in their formats (verbal vs. numerical) and strengths (strong vs weak). The two opinions were presented in either the strong–weak order or the weak–strong order. Participants were instructed to first anchor their purchase likelihood at 50%, and then adjust the purchase likelihood, first based on the first expert's opinion, and second based on both experts' opinions. In both experiments the hypotheses that participants employed an additive rule to integrate verbal information and an averaging rule to integrate numerical information were supported.

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