So the questions raised are:
Was there a communications gap between what McQueary felt he saw and what he conveyed to Paterno – whom he has described as someone he was hesitant to discuss sexual issues with?
Were Curley and Schultz eager to adopt Paterno’s terms, either because it was more comfortable for everyone going forward, or because McQueary didn’t do an effective enough job in coloring in the details?
Whatever the case, two other witnesses who heard retellings of the incident from Curley and Schultz also testified Tuesday that they were not made definitely aware the incident was a sexual assault.
What Curley testified that he felt he was dealing with with Sandusky, he said, were “boundary issues.”
I would add that Paterno’s initial report might have “anchored” the issue for Curley.
The Anchoring Trap
How would you answer these two questions?
- Is the population of Turkey greater than 35 million?
- What’s your best estimate of Turkey’s population?
If you’re like most people, the figure of 35 million cited in the first question (a figure we chose arbitrarily) influenced your answer to the second question. Over the years, we’ve posed those questions to many groups of people. In half the cases, we used 35 million in the first question; in the other half, we used 100 million. Without fail, the answers to the second question increase by many millions when the larger figure is used in the first question. This simple test illustrates the common and often pernicious mental phenomenon known as anchoring. When considering a decision, the mind gives disproportionate weight to the first information it receives. Initial impressions, estimates, or data anchor subsequent thoughts and judgments.