Combining advice: The weight of a dissenting opinion in the consensus

Clare Harries*, Ilan Yaniv, Nigel Harvey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


We present two studies that evaluate how people combine advice and how they respond to outlying opinions. In a preliminary study, we found that individuals use discounting strategies when they encounter an extreme opinion in a small sample of opinions taken only once (a one-shot advice-taking situation). The main study examines the influence of outlying opinions (which may or may not be accurate) within a learning paradigm with feedback. This study shows that it is easy to reinforce a discounting strategy (with feedback) whereas it is more difficult to counteract this default strategy. In the discussion we consider cognitive, statistical, and strategic justifications for discounting opinions, from both theoretical and practical points of view.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)333-348
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Advice taking
  • Combining forecasts
  • Dissenting opinions
  • Judgment
  • Outliers


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