IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jobhdp/v160y2020icp51-67.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

When poignant stories outweigh cold hard facts: A meta-analysis of the anecdotal bias

Author

Listed:
  • Freling, Traci H.
  • Yang, Zhiyong
  • Saini, Ritesh
  • Itani, Omar S.
  • Rashad Abualsamh, Ryan

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to resolve mixed findings about which type of evidence is more persuasive—statistical or anecdotal information. In a meta-analysis of 61 papers exploring the persuasive impact of evidence type, we establish that, in situations where emotional engagement is high (e.g., an issue associated with a severe threat, involving a health issue, or affecting oneself), statistical evidence is less influential than anecdotal evidence. However, in situations where emotional engagement is relatively low (e.g., an issue associated with low threat severity, involving a non-health issue, or affecting others), statistical evidence is more persuasive than anecdotal evidence. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings, and how to improve persuasive messaging by considering the contextual effectiveness of both anecdotes and statistics.

Suggested Citation

  • Freling, Traci H. & Yang, Zhiyong & Saini, Ritesh & Itani, Omar S. & Rashad Abualsamh, Ryan, 2020. "When poignant stories outweigh cold hard facts: A meta-analysis of the anecdotal bias," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 51-67.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:160:y:2020:i:c:p:51-67
    DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2020.01.006
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749597819301633
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.obhdp.2020.01.006?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ola Andersson & Håkan J. Holm & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2016. "Deciding for Others Reduces Loss Aversion," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(1), pages 29-36, January.
    2. ,, 2001. "Problems And Solutions," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(6), pages 1157-1160, December.
    3. Janiszewski, Chris & Noel, Hayden & Sawyer, Alan G, 2003. "A Meta-analysis of the Spacing Effect in Verbal Learning: Implications for Research on Advertising Repetition and Consumer Memory," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(1), pages 138-149, June.
    4. Yalch, Richard F & Elmore-Yalch, Rebecca, 1984. "The Effect of Numbers on the Route to Persuasion," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 522-527, June.
    5. Ali Faraji-Rad & Michel Tuan Pham, 2017. "Uncertainty Increases the Reliance on Affect in Decisions," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(1), pages 1-21.
    6. van Laer, Tom & de Ruyter, Ko, 2010. "In stories we trust: How narrative apologies provide cover for competitive vulnerability after integrity-violating blog posts," International Journal of Research in Marketing, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 164-174.
    7. Lynch, John G, Jr, 1982. "On the External Validity of Experiments in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(3), pages 225-239, December.
    8. Winterbottom, Anna & Bekker, Hilary L. & Conner, Mark & Mooney, Andrew, 2008. "Does narrative information bias individual's decision making? A systematic review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(12), pages 2079-2088, December.
    9. Amanda Hinnant & Roma Subramanian & Rachel Young, 2016. "User comments on climate stories: impacts of anecdotal vs. scientific evidence," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 138(3), pages 411-424, October.
    10. Barbara E. Kahn & Mary Frances Luce, 2003. "Understanding High-Stakes Consumer Decisions: Mammography Adherence Following False-Alarm Test Results," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(3), pages 393-410, April.
    11. Cornelia Betsch & Corina Ulshöfer & Frank Renkewitz & Tilmann Betsch, 2011. "The Influence of Narrative v. Statistical Information on Perceiving Vaccination Risks," Medical Decision Making, , vol. 31(5), pages 742-753, September.
    12. Andrew D. Gershoff & Jonathan J. Koehler, 2011. "Safety First? The Role of Emotion in Safety Product Betrayal Aversion," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 140-150.
    13. Keller, Punam Anand & Block, Lauren G, 1997. "Vividness Effects: A Resource-Matching Perspective," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(3), pages 295-304, December.
    14. Dickson, Peter R, 1982. "The Impact of Enriching Case and Statistical Information on Consumer Judgments," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(4), pages 398-406, March.
    15. Sloman, Steven A. & Over, David & Slovak, Lila & Stibel, Jeffrey M., 2003. "Frequency illusions and other fallacies," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 296-309, July.
    16. Peterson, Robert A, 2001. "On the Use of College Students in Social Science Research: Insights from a Second-Order Meta-analysis," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(3), pages 450-461, December.
    17. Dengfeng Yan & Jaideep Sengupta, 2013. "The Influence of Base Rate and Case Information on Health-Risk Perceptions: A Unified Model of Self-Positivity and Self-Negativity," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(5), pages 931-946.
    18. Wagenaar, W. A. & Keren, G. B., 1986. "The seat belt paradox: Effect of adopted roles on information seeking," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 1-6, August.
    19. Luce, Mary Frances, 1998. "Choosing to Avoid: Coping with Negatively Emotion-Laden Consumer Decisions," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(4), pages 409-433, March.
    20. Fern, Edward F & Monroe, Kent B, 1996. "Effect-Size Estimates: Issues and Problems in Interpretation," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 89-105, September.
    21. ,, 2001. "Problems And Solutions," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(5), pages 1025-1031, October.
    22. Wainberg, James S. & Kida, Thomas & David Piercey, M. & Smith, James F., 2013. "The impact of anecdotal data in regulatory audit firm inspection reports," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 621-636.
    23. Liu, Yi & Polman, Evan & Liu, Yongfang & Jiao, Jiangli, 2018. "Choosing for others and its relation to information search," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 65-75.
    24. Zhiyong Yang & Ritesh Saini & Traci Freling, 2015. "How Anxiety Leads to Suboptimal Decisions Under Risky Choice Situations," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 35(10), pages 1789-1800, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Velasco, Franklin & Yang, Zhiyong & Janakiraman, Narayanan, 2021. "A meta-analytic investigation of consumer response to anthropomorphic appeals: The roles of product type and uncertainty avoidance," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 735-746.
    2. Lieberman, Alicea & Schroeder, Juliana & Amir, On, 2022. "A voice inside my head: The psychological and behavioral consequences of auditory technologies," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 170(C).
    3. Yang, Zhiyong & Freling, Traci & Sun, Sijie & Richardson-Greenfield, Pam, 2022. "When do product crises hurt business? A meta-analytic investigation of negative publicity on consumer responses," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 102-120.
    4. Hagmann, David & minson, julia & Tinsley, Catherine, 2020. "Personal Narratives Build Trust in Ideological Conflict," OSF Preprints sw7nz, Center for Open Science.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Freling, Traci H. & Vincent, Leslie H. & Henard, David H., 2014. "When not to accentuate the positive: Re-examining valence effects in attribute framing," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 95-109.
    2. Velasco, Franklin & Yang, Zhiyong & Janakiraman, Narayanan, 2021. "A meta-analytic investigation of consumer response to anthropomorphic appeals: The roles of product type and uncertainty avoidance," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 735-746.
    3. Dhruv Grewal & Nancy Puccinelli & Kent B. Monroe, 2018. "Meta-analysis: integrating accumulated knowledge," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 9-30, January.
    4. Marcel Lichters & Marko Sarstedt & Bodo Vogt, 2015. "On the practical relevance of the attraction effect: A cautionary note and guidelines for context effect experiments," AMS Review, Springer;Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, June.
    5. Dolf Talman & Zaifu Yang, 2012. "On a Parameterized System of Nonlinear Equations with Economic Applications," Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, Springer, vol. 154(2), pages 644-671, August.
    6. Subramanian, S.V. & Subramanyam, Malavika A. & Selvaraj, Sakthivel & Kawachi, Ichiro, 2009. "Are self-reports of health and morbidities in developing countries misleading? Evidence from India," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 260-265, January.
    7. World Bank, 2002. "Costa Rica : Social Spending and the Poor, Volume 1. Summary of Issues and Recommendations with Executive Summary," World Bank Publications - Reports 15330, The World Bank Group.
    8. Emin Karagözoğlu, 2014. "A noncooperative approach to bankruptcy problems with an endogenous estate," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 217(1), pages 299-318, June.
    9. Hernández-Hernández, M.E. & Kolokoltsov, V.N. & Toniazzi, L., 2017. "Generalised fractional evolution equations of Caputo type," Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 184-196.
    10. Simon Levin & Anastasios Xepapadeas, 2021. "On the Coevolution of Economic and Ecological Systems," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 13(1), pages 355-377, October.
    11. Juan Moreno-Ternero & Antonio Villar, 2006. "The TAL-Family of Rules for Bankruptcy Problems," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 27(2), pages 231-249, October.
    12. Lee, Hiro & van der Mensbrugghe, Dominique, 2005. "The impact of the US safeguard measures on Northeast Asian producers: General equilibrium assessments," MPRA Paper 82288, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Hoang Ngoc Tuan, 2015. "Boundedness of a Type of Iterative Sequences in Two-Dimensional Quadratic Programming," Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, Springer, vol. 164(1), pages 234-245, January.
    14. Wang, Daojuan & Hain, Daniel S. & Larimo, Jorma & Dao, Li T., 2020. "Cultural differences and synergy realization in cross-border acquisitions," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3).
    15. Wulf Gaertner & Richard Bradley & Yongsheng Xu & Lars Schwettmann, 2019. "Against the proportionality principle: Experimental findings on bargaining over losses," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(7), pages 1-18, July.
    16. Zhou, H. & Uhlaner, L.M., 2009. "Knowledge Management in the SME and its Relationship to Strategy, Family Orientation and Organization Learning," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2009-026-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    17. Turpie, J.K. & Marais, C. & Blignaut, J.N., 2008. "The working for water programme: Evolution of a payments for ecosystem services mechanism that addresses both poverty and ecosystem service delivery in South Africa," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 788-798, May.
    18. Tilman Brück & Patricia Justino & Philip Verwimp & Andrew Tedesco & Alexandra Avdeenko, 2013. "Measuring Conflict Exposure in Micro-Level Surveys," HiCN Working Papers 153, Households in Conflict Network.
    19. Erik Ansink & Hans-Peter Weikard, 2012. "Sequential sharing rules for river sharing problems," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 38(2), pages 187-210, February.
    20. Koichi Hamada & Asahi Noguchi, 2005. "The Role of Preconceived Ideas in Macroeconomic Policy: Japan's Experiences in the Two Deflationary Periods," Working Papers 908, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:160:y:2020:i:c:p:51-67. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.