Cover: A Test for Anchoring and Yea-Saying in Experimental Consumption Data

A Test for Anchoring and Yea-Saying in Experimental Consumption Data

Published Dec 21, 2004

by Arthur Van Soest, Michael D. Hurd

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In the experimental module of the AHEAD 1995 data, the sample is randomly split into respondents who get an open-ended question on the amount of total family consumption — with follow-up unfolding brackets (of the form: is consumption $X or more?) for those who answer "don't know" or "refuse" — and respondents who are immediately directed to unfolding brackets. In both cases, the entry point of the unfolding bracket sequence is randomized. These data are used to develop a nonparametric test for whether people make mistakes in answering the first bracket question, allowing for any type of selection into answering the open-ended question or not. Two well-known types of mistakes are considered: anchoring and yea-saying (or acquiescence). While the literature provides ample evidence that the entry point in the first bracket question serves as an anchor for follow-up bracket questions, it is less clear whether the answers to the first bracket question are already affected by anchoring. We reject the joint hypothesis of no anchoring and no yea-saying at the entry point. Once yea-saying is taken into account, there is no evidence of anchoring.

This research was performed within RAND Labor and Population.

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