Taking Advice: Accepting Help, Improving Judgment, and Sharing Responsibility

Nigel Harvey, Ilan Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Why do people take advice? To find out, we provided a low, medium, or high level of training on a task in which judgments varied in importance. Then, in a test session, we eliminated feedback but made advice available. Different features of our results suggest that there are three distinct reasons for taking advice. First, even experienced judges took some advice from novices: people appear reluctant to reject completely the help offered to them. Second, all judges took more advice from advisors more experienced than themselves, and the amount that they took was related to the difference in level of experience: people appeared to be trying to use advice to improve their judgments. Third, experience enabled people to distinguish judgments on the basis of their importance. Experienced judges took about twice as much advice for the most important judgments: they appeared to be sharing responsibility when the risk associated with error was high. Thus, we model advice-taking in terms of three components: accepting help, improving judgment, and sharing responsibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-133
Number of pages17
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Parts of this paper were presented at the Seventh Meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology, Lisbon, 1994, and at the Sixteenth International Symposium on Forecasting, Istanbul, 1996. The research was in part funded by Economic and Social Research Council Grant R000236827.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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