The Differential Impact of Abstract vs. Concrete Information on Decisions

Eugene Borgida, Richard E. Nisbett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

296 Scopus citations


Recent findings from research on judgment and attribution processes indicate that people regard base rate data, i.e., statistical summaries of populations, as if they were uninformative. It is suggested that base rate information lacks impact because of its abstract, pallid nature. In a demonstration of the inefficacy of abstract information, undergraduates were given mean course evaluations based on ratings of students who previously took the courses. This information had little impact on course choices. In contrast, brief, face‐to‐face comments about the courses had a substantial impact on course choices. The results suggest that information is utilized in proportion to its vividness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-271
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1977


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