Instructions, Bias


Other Communication


The effect of instructional wording on preferences for different types of direction-giving information was examined. Researchers often use instructions that are awkwardly worded in an effort to avoid biasing subjects toward a particular type of information (e.g. “where?” eliciting location information), yet there is little empirical evidence that shows how instructions will bias subjects’ directions. Four groups received differing instructions for giving directions to a listener about how to find a mouse hidden in a dollhouse. Subjects’ use of location, color, right-left, and route information was measured. The instructions “tell where the mouse is” did not bias subjects toward using location information over other information and did not differ from the more awkward, “tell how to find the mouse”.