Investing Amid Uncertainty: A Test of the Domain Specific Anchoring Hypothesis

Abstract

The current study examined reactions to the precision of earnings’ forecasts in hypothetical investment decisions. In a forced choice task, participants were found to be indifferent between point (e.g., $2) or range (e.g., $1.70-$2.30) forecast formats when both outcomes were favorable (i.e., above market expectation). When the outcomes were unfavorable (below expectation), participants’ preferences were significantly biased towards range estimates. When faced with options which mixed forecast formats and favorability, participants almost always opted for forecasts with a favorable outlook regardless of format. These results are inconsistent with domain specific ambiguity reactions found previously (Du, 2009) and also offer no support for the domain specific anchoring hypothesis (e.g. Du, 2009; Du & Budescu, 2005). These findings raise some doubts about the generality of domain specific reactions to uncertainty and suggest that such effects might be dependent, in part, on the (financial) sophistication of participants.


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