Sensory Experience Sequences (03-26-21)

Researchers have found that initial sensory experiences color responses to future ones.  Jain, Nayakankuppam, and Gaeth, in a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making,report that “Once a price is mentioned, that number serves as the basis for — or ‘anchors’ — all future discussions and decisions. But new research shows. . . anchoring even occurs in perceptual domains, like sight, sound, and touch. . . .  [the researchers] conducted several studies involving different senses. For example, to test decision-making relating to haptics — or touch — [they] asked subjects to close their eyes and touch sandpaper of a certain grit. When the subjects opened their eyes, he offered them 16 sandpaper choices and asked them to find the grit that matched the first one. Jain anchored the range of options by making participants start with either a relatively finer or coarser grit than the initial one. Those subjects that were anchored with the finer grit chose sandpaper that was finer than the one they originally touched — and the converse was true for those anchored with the coarser grit.” This finding may be useful, for example, to people doing design-related research.

“Not Just For Numbers: Anchoring Biases Decisions Involving Sight, Sound, and Touch.”  2021. Press release, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,