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Lay Evaluation of Financial Experts: The Action Advice Effect and Confirmation Bias

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ABSTRACT

The goal of this experimental project was to investigate lay peoples’ perceptions of epistemic authority (EA) in the field of finance. EA is defined as the extent to which a source of information is treated as evidence for judgments independently of its objective expertise and based on subjective beliefs. Previous research suggested that EA evaluations are biased and that lay people tend to ascribe higher EA to experts who advise action (in the case of medical experts) or confirm clients’ expectations (in the case of politicians). However, there has been no research into biases in lay evaluations of financial experts and this project is aimed to fill this gap. Experiment 1 showed that lay people tended to ascribe greater authority to financial consultants who gave more active advice to clients considering taking out a mortgage. Experiment 2 confirmed the action advice effect found in Experiment 1. However, the outcomes of Experiments 2 and – particularly – 3 suggested that this bias might also be due to clients’ desire to confirm their own opinions. Experiment 2 showed that the action advice effect was moderated by clients’ own opinions on taking loans. Lay people ascribed the greatest EA to the advisor in the scenario in which he advised taking action and where this coincided with the client’s positive opinion on the advisability of taking out a loan. In Experiment 3 only participants with a positive opinion on the financial product ascribed greater authority to experts who recommended it; participants whose opinion was negative tended to rate consultants who advised rejecting the product more highly. To conclude, these three experiments revealed that lay people ascribe higher EA to financial consultants who advise action rather than maintenance of the status quo, but this effect is limited by confirmation bias: when the client’s a priori opinion is salient, greater authority is ascribed to experts whose advice confirms it. In this sense, results presented in the present paper suggest that the action advice effect might be also interpreted as a specific manifestation of confirmation bias.

No MeSH data available.


Ascriptions of epistemic authority as a function of advisor’s experience and type of advice.
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Figure 1: Ascriptions of epistemic authority as a function of advisor’s experience and type of advice.

Mentions: Planned comparisons showed that the ‘against’ advice yielded lower ratings of advisor EA (M = 2.85, SD = 1.01) than the other three types of advice [‘postpone’: M = 3.44, SD = 0.80, F(1,140) = 8.48, p = 0.004, η2 = 0.06; ‘small loan’: M = 3.69, SD = 0.70, F(1,140) = 17.34, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.11; ‘large loan’: M = 3.59, SD = 0.90; F(1,140) = 14.26, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.09; Figure 1]. Ascriptions of EA to advisors who recommended postponing the decision or taking out a loan of some sort were similar (all Fs < 1.5, ps > 0.22).


Lay Evaluation of Financial Experts: The Action Advice Effect and Confirmation Bias
Ascriptions of epistemic authority as a function of advisor’s experience and type of advice.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5037174&req=5

Figure 1: Ascriptions of epistemic authority as a function of advisor’s experience and type of advice.
Mentions: Planned comparisons showed that the ‘against’ advice yielded lower ratings of advisor EA (M = 2.85, SD = 1.01) than the other three types of advice [‘postpone’: M = 3.44, SD = 0.80, F(1,140) = 8.48, p = 0.004, η2 = 0.06; ‘small loan’: M = 3.69, SD = 0.70, F(1,140) = 17.34, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.11; ‘large loan’: M = 3.59, SD = 0.90; F(1,140) = 14.26, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.09; Figure 1]. Ascriptions of EA to advisors who recommended postponing the decision or taking out a loan of some sort were similar (all Fs < 1.5, ps > 0.22).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The goal of this experimental project was to investigate lay peoples&rsquo; perceptions of epistemic authority (EA) in the field of finance. EA is defined as the extent to which a source of information is treated as evidence for judgments independently of its objective expertise and based on subjective beliefs. Previous research suggested that EA evaluations are biased and that lay people tend to ascribe higher EA to experts who advise action (in the case of medical experts) or confirm clients&rsquo; expectations (in the case of politicians). However, there has been no research into biases in lay evaluations of financial experts and this project is aimed to fill this gap. Experiment 1 showed that lay people tended to ascribe greater authority to financial consultants who gave more active advice to clients considering taking out a mortgage. Experiment 2 confirmed the action advice effect found in Experiment 1. However, the outcomes of Experiments 2 and &ndash; particularly &ndash; 3 suggested that this bias might also be due to clients&rsquo; desire to confirm their own opinions. Experiment 2 showed that the action advice effect was moderated by clients&rsquo; own opinions on taking loans. Lay people ascribed the greatest EA to the advisor in the scenario in which he advised taking action and where this coincided with the client&rsquo;s positive opinion on the advisability of taking out a loan. In Experiment 3 only participants with a positive opinion on the financial product ascribed greater authority to experts who recommended it; participants whose opinion was negative tended to rate consultants who advised rejecting the product more highly. To conclude, these three experiments revealed that lay people ascribe higher EA to financial consultants who advise action rather than maintenance of the status quo, but this effect is limited by confirmation bias: when the client&rsquo;s a priori opinion is salient, greater authority is ascribed to experts whose advice confirms it. In this sense, results presented in the present paper suggest that the action advice effect might be also interpreted as a specific manifestation of confirmation bias.

No MeSH data available.