Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Students are more likely to retake the SAT if their score ends with '90'

Date:
January 19, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
High school students are more likely to retake the SAT if they score just below a round number, such as 1290, than if they score just above it. That's the conclusion of a new study that found that round numbers are strong motivators.

High school students are more likely to retake the SAT if they score just below a round number, such as 1290, than if they score just above it. That's the conclusion of a study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, which found that round numbers are strong motivators.

The work was inspired by a study that found that a car's value drops suddenly when it passes a 10,000 mile mark -- so a car that has 70,000 miles is worth markedly less than one with 69,900 miles. "We were talking about that and we started thinking about SAT tests," says Uri Simonsohn of the University of Pennsylvania, who cowrote the study with Devin Pope of the University of Chicago.

Pope had a set of SAT scores from 1994 to 2001 -- before the SAT scoring system changed -- when the maximum score was still 1600. These scores were only the last score attained by each student, so if they retook the test, their first score didn't appear. The researchers found gaps just below 1000, 1100, 1200, and so on, indicating that people who got those scores were more likely to retake the test and have that just short of a "00" score replaced by something else.

The change in SAT scores probably doesn't make a big difference in the students' lives, Simonsohn says. "The SAT doesn't matter nearly as much for admission as people think, so 10 points probably don't make a difference." (In fact, when Simonsohn looked at actual admissions data, he found that students who scored 1390 were just as likely to be accepted as students who scored 1400.) His only worry is that students might be wasting their time retaking the SAT to reach a pointless goal rather than doing something more productive.

In experiments, the researchers also found that people who imagined running laps were more likely to say they'd do another lap if they'd just finished 19 than if they had already run 20. A look at baseball stats found that that players are four times more likely to end a season with a .300 batting average than a .299 average -- they manipulate their batting average by making decisions about whether to walk or swing, or whether to have a pinch hitter come in.

The research "tells you how important self-motivation is," Simonsohn says. People are surprisingly driven by round numbers and will take major action -- like sitting through a day of standardized testing, which hardly anybody enjoys -- to reach these arbitrary goals. Economists in particular tend to focus on actual awards that come from outside, like money or another reward, he says, but this is a clear example of motivation coming from within.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. Pope, U. Simonsohn. Round Numbers as Goals: Evidence From Baseball, SAT Takers, and the Lab. Psychological Science, 2010; 22 (1): 71 DOI: 10.1177/0956797610391098

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Students are more likely to retake the SAT if their score ends with '90'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110119120552.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, January 19). Students are more likely to retake the SAT if their score ends with '90'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110119120552.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Students are more likely to retake the SAT if their score ends with '90'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110119120552.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins