The anchoring and adjustment heuristic has been shown to be a pervasive technique that people use in judgment, decision-making, and problem-solving tasks to reduce cognitive burden. However, reliance on the anchoring heuristic often leads to a systematic adjustment bias, in which people fail to make sufficient adjustments for a particular task. In a study involving 157 subjects from six universities, we examined the effect of this bias on SQL query formulation under varying levels of domain familiarity. Subjects were asked to formulate SQL queries to respond to six information requests in a familiar domain and six information requests in an unfamiliar domain. For some, subjects were also provided with sample queries that answered similar information requests. To adequately adjust a sample query, a subject needed to make both surface-structure modifications that required little cognitive effort and deep-structure modifications that required substantially more cognitive effort. We found that reuse can lead to poorer quality query results and greater overconfidence in the correctness of results. We also show that the strength of the adjustment bias depends on domain familiarity. This study demonstrates that anchoring and adjustment extends to an important area in information systems use that has not been previously studied. We also expand the notion of anchoring and adjustment to include the role of domain familiarity.
Allen, Gove and Parsons, B. Jeffrey, "A Little Help can Be A Bad Thing: Anchoring and Adjustment in Adaptive Query Reuse" (2006). ICIS 2006 Proceedings. 45.