In this jolt, the participants read statements about India. They identify two possible factual errors and correct them with their estimates. In the process, they learn how the initial information given to them influences their decisions.
Ask the participants to correct the errors in statements about India. There are two versions of these statements and the participants estimates of the correct figures are influenced by the incorrect numbers originally presented to them.
The explore the impact of the anchoring effect in people’s decisions.
- Logical fallacies
- Minimum: 2
- Maximum: Any number
- Best: 10 to 20
4 minutes for the activity. 5 minutes for debriefing.
A brief handout containing two different statements about India. (There are two different versions of this handout, each distributed to an equal number of the participants.)
- Pens or pencils
Reproduce two handouts. Both handouts look similar to each other.
Here is the text for the first one:
Two Facts About India
The Constitution of India has recognized 134 different languages as the official languages of India.
According to the World Bank, the population of India was 3.22 billion in 2015.
Here is the text for the second one:
Two Facts About India
The Constitution of India has recognized five different languages as the official languages of India.
According to the World Bank, the population of India was 13.47 million in 2015.
Arrange the handouts. Make equal number of copies of the two handouts. Arrange the handouts in a single pile, alternating the two versions.
Brief the participants. Tell the participants that they will be given a handout that contains two statements about India. (Do not let them suspect that there are different versions of the handout.) Both of the statement in the handout contain incorrect data. The challenge for the participants is to secretly and independently estimate the accurate data and correct these errors.
Distribute the handouts. From the prearranged pile, give one handout to each participant, with the printed side facing down. Remind the participants that they should work independently and correct the two errors in the handout. Announce a 1-minute time limit.
Mix up the handouts. At the end of the minute, blow the whistle and ask the participants to repeatedly exchange the corrected handouts with one another so they get mixed up.
Assemble two groups. Tell the participants that there are two different versions of the handout (both with two errors). Ask the participants to form themselves into two groups depending on whether the original number on the handout indicated 134 or 5 official languages.
Find the average. Give each group a calculator if necessary. Ask the groups to find the average value of the corrected numbers of the official languages. Pause for a suitable period of time.
Ask the groups to present the averages. Let a spokesperson from the two groups announce the averages. Repeat the numbers, rounding them off to the nearest whole number. Explain that the correct number of official languages in India is 22.
Population estimates. Ask the groups to use the numbers on the second sentence and calculate the average estimate of the population. Pause while the groups perform the calculations.
Ask the groups to present the averages. Let a spokesperson for the two groups announce the average population estimates. Repeat the numbers, rounding them off to two decimal places. Announce the correct 2015 population of India as 1.31 billion.
Introduce the concept of anchoring. Explain that the learning point of this jolt is not about India but about a psychological principle called anchoring. This principle suggests that people’s decisions and estimates are heavily influenced by the first piece of information presented to them. If the anchoring principle is valid, people who received the handout that presented 5 languages in the original statement will estimate a smaller number of languages than those who were presented the higher number of 134 languages.
Check the data. Recall the average of the two groups (that had handouts specifying 5 languages and 134 languages) and decide whether the anchoring effect is supported. Similarly, review the averages related to the two population numbers (low of 13.47 and high of 3.22 billion). Once again, decide whether the anchoring effect is supported.
Follow up. Encourage the participants to learn more about anchoring on the internet.