The Subtle Influence of Check and X Marks: How Symbolic Markings Influence Judgment

Gunwoo Yoon, Patrick Vargas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Symbols can exert an influence on how we think, feel, and even behave. Here we examine whether symbolic markings serve as primes and influence how people make judgments. We propose that making either a check or an X mark to indicate an opinion can lead people to process the same information differently, thereby influencing the judgment people make. Across four experiments, we find that the check and X marks carry different symbolic associations; people associate check with good and X with bad. We also find downstream consequences of these mental associations. People who make positively connoted check marks (as opposed to negatively connoted X marks) to indicate their judgments are more agreeable toward familiar, controversial social policies as well as market research survey items on values and life styles. Differential symbolic markings with check and X marks seem to shape how people think and make judgments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)682-688
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Attitudes and persuasion
  • Behavioral decision theory
  • Decision making
  • Judgment
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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