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Finishing on time: When do predictions influence completion times?


  • Buehler, Roger
  • Peetz, Johanna
  • Griffin, Dale


People typically predict they will finish projects earlier than they do. Whereas previous research has examined the determinants of this prediction bias, the present research explored potential consequences for behavior. In particular, we examined whether and when task completion predictions influence actual completion times. In four experiments we used anchoring manipulations to induce participants to make relatively early or late task completion predictions, and then examined when they started and/or finished the target tasks. As hypothesized, the prediction manipulation influenced completion times under certain conditions defined by the nature of the target task. Manipulated predictions affected completion times of closed tasks, defined as tasks carried out within a single, continuous session but not of open tasks, defined as tasks requiring multiple work sessions. This implies that task completion predictions help to initiate action, but their impact diminishes over the course of extensive, multi-stage projects.

Suggested Citation

  • Buehler, Roger & Peetz, Johanna & Griffin, Dale, 2010. "Finishing on time: When do predictions influence completion times?," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 111(1), pages 23-32, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:111:y:2010:i:1:p:23-32

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Buehler, Roger & Griffin, Dale, 2003. "Planning, personality, and prediction: The role of future focus in optimistic time predictions," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 80-90.
    2. Terry Connolly & Doug Dean, 1997. "Decomposed Versus Holistic Estimates of Effort Required for Software Writing Tasks," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(7), pages 1029-1045, July.
    3. Buehler, Roger & Messervey, Deanna & Griffin, Dale, 2005. "Collaborative planning and prediction: Does group discussion affect optimistic biases in time estimation?," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 47-63, May.
    4. Paese, Paul W., 1995. "Effects of Framing on Actual Time Allocation Decisions," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 67-76, January.
    5. Hinsz, Verlin B. & Kalnbach, Lynn R. & Lorentz, Nichole R., 1997. "Using Judgmental Anchors to Establish Challenging Self-Set Goals Without Jeopardizing Commitment," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 287-308, September.
    6. Morwitz, Vicki G & Johnson, Eric J & Schmittlein, David C, 1993. " Does Measuring Intent Change Behavior?," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 46-61, June.
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