At what age does the anchoring heuristic emerge? Evidence from Jeopardy!

Michael Jetter, Jay K. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Accessing data from the US game show Jeopardy!, we investigate the anchoring phenomenon among kids (aged 10–12 years; 182 observations), teenagers (aged 13–17 years; 606 observations), and undergraduate college students (559 observations). We focus on Daily Double clues where a contestant can wager on their correct response immediately after an initial clue value has been made salient (e.g., “I choose [the clue category] World Capitals for $600!”). Crucially, the show's rules and identifiable strategies provide no rational reason why the initial clue value should serve as an anchor for the subsequent wager. Our results produce no statistically discernible evidence consistent with anchoring in kids and teenagers once we account for contestants’ scores as an important determinant of wagers. However, college students appear to anchor their wager strongly on the initial clue value. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that anchoring emerges in adults, but is not present among teenagers or children. Nevertheless, we advise caution in interpreting our results pertaining to kids since sample sizes are smaller and therefore estimates become less precise in statistical terms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-766
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Early online date17 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


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