23 April 2018
Do People Inherently Dislike Uncertain Advice?
The purpose of this essay is to discuss the results and logic behind a study conducted in
order to see whether the type of advice given reflects the response which is transmitted from an
individual. This journal entry was edited and posted by Celia Gaertig and Joseph P. Simmons.
This has long been a very interesting topic of conversation in the world of psychology, and just
in general. What is the reasoning behind a particular response one gives, and what factors
determine it? The essay will now proceed to discuss the breakdown of the study, the results, and
a personal interpretation from myself.
The way in which the study was conducted was in 9 studies. The first studies, 1-6, were
all similar- and labeled “Advice Evaluation.” These studies consisted of the subjects being asked
to predict the outcome of certain sporting events. Prior to each prediction they made, they
received and had the chance to evaluate over advice. Studies 1-2 were conducted on fans of the
NBA. 3-6 were on fans of the MLB. The procedure for all six were conducted fairly similarly, in
that eight games were selected randomly, no earlier than 7 pm. For each of the MLB games, the
subjects were given the game start times, as well as both the teams participating and the starting
pitchers. The advice given was different in that some of it was more assertive than others. In
studies 1-4 and 6, the subjects were given advice which contained lower confidence. Such as, “I
am not sure, but I think that the Chicago Cubs will win the game” (Gaertis;Simmons0). In study
5, the advice given was very confidently stated. In regards to the basketball related studies- 1 and
2- the subjects had the task of guessing the point total teams would score in a particular matchup.
The results showed that the subjects did not really suffer from uncertain advice, in the form of
point ranges. “ In fact, participants preferred advice that spanned a 20-point range to certain
advice, and they did not significantly dislike uncertain advice that spanned a very large
(40-point) range” (Gaertis;Simmons).
Study 7 was conducted under the premises of “ Advice Evaluation and Varied
Probabilities.” They were again asked to predict the outcomes of sporting events, and this time to
evaluate the advice they were given previously. The setting of this study was in a laboratory- and
the incentives for a correct prediction were increased, so as to make sure the participants were to
make the best prediction they could. They were also instructed to carefully consider the
previously given advice. The question was switched around this time to ask how many two-hit
games there would be in the MLB, which would be a topic that more people are less familiar
with. The results showed that advisors who were more uncertain were evaluated more negatively
than certain advisors. Another key analysis point is that the approximate chance advice was
evaluated more positively than so called certain advice. In conclusion, this study came to show
the same as 1-6, that people do not inherently dislike uncertain advice. In studies 8-9,
participants were questioned about predicting baseball games and stock prices. For both of these,
they received advice from two advisors. One of the advisors provided certain advice, and the
other uncertain. In regards to both the baseball games and stock prices, the advice was the same-
but the level of certainty was differing. The results showed that the participants came to prefer
the uncertain advice over the certain advice- just as in the previous studies.
This does relate strongly to certain topics learned from my psychology course. These
topics being specifically the brain and it’s decision making. Something which goes hand in hand
with this is the structure of the brain. The brain makes decisions on the lateral frontal pole, which
is nestled within the confines of the frontal cortex. We also came to learn that the brain makes up
to 35,000 decisions a day- which stresses the importance of this experiment in that it brings
decision making to the forefront.
My personal opinion and take on this study is that of general agreeance. I think what this
study came to prove was that people’s opinions- once formed- are hard to change. It shows the
concept of hard-headedness. Once someone has their head wrapped around an idea or concept,
they do not want their minds changed. It can sometimes feel as if someone is threatening your
thoughts, or trying to force you into something. Many people do not wish to fit in- but rather
have their own original and non-conformal thoughts. In finality, I would like to state that this
experiment was successful in proving the consistency of decision making, and whether the effect
of different advice changes outlooks and opinions.
1. Gaertig, Celia. Simmons, Joseph. “Do People Inherently Dislike Uncertain Advice?”
Psychological Science, 2018,