Extreme judgments depend on the expectation of following judgments: A calibration analysis

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Judges avoid extreme judgments in the beginning of evaluation sequences. The calibration hypothesis attributes this bias to judges’ need to preserve their judgmental degrees of freedom. It follows that the expectation of a sequence leads to avoiding extreme judgments in the beginning. Thus, judges may make extreme judgments if they expect only one performance but should avoid extreme judgments if they expect a sequence.


A between-group design was used.


One experimental group (n = 21) expected to judge only one gymnastics performance whereas the other group (n = 20) expected to judge a sequence of performances. Both groups then judged only one identical performance.


Groups differed significantly in the frequency of extreme judgments. Participants expecting one performance used extreme judgment categories more often; participants expecting a series avoided extreme judgments.


The results support calibration processes in sequential judgments. The specification of the underlying process will allow testing possible interventions to avoid serial position biases in serial evaluations in the future.

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