Round Number Effects (07-13-20)

Jain and colleagues documented the power of round numbers.  They report that they found using numbers that weren’t round (compared to round numbers) “negatively affects consumers’ overall evaluations of the target. . . .   In many of our studies, the non-round numbers used made the target items (e.g., performance on an exam) objectively superior (e.g., 81.64% correct answers in an exam reflects a better performance than 80% correct answers and 18.36% incorrect answers in an exam reflects a better performance than 20% incorrect answers). Despite this, the participants evaluated an objectively more superior entity to be perceptually less good (e.g., A student getting 81.64% correct answers in an exam to have a poorer performance than a student getting 80% correct answers and student getting 18.36% incorrect answers in an exam to have a poorer performance than a student getting 20% incorrect answers). The results were interesting even when the non-round numbers were in the other direction; that is the non-round number was numerically smaller than the round number in the positive frame.”  This finding has repercussions for discussions of design implications, for example.

Gaurav Jain, Gary Gaeth, Dhananjay Nayakankuppam, and Irwin Levin. 2020. “Revisiting Attribute Framing: The Impact of Number Roundedness on Framing.”  Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, vol. 161, pp. 109-119, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2020.04.006