Photo by Lucas Sankey

What is Anchoring and Why Should You Care?

It’s an important mental model well worth learning

Julia Clavien
Dec 21, 2019 · 2 min read

Introducing anchoring — a crucial mental model from the discipline of psychology that is very relevant in your professional life, but also your personal life. Once you’re familiar with this one, you might just start to notice it everywhere! ⚓

What is Anchoring?

Anchoring is a cognitive bias that describes the tendency for an individual to rely too heavily on an initial piece of information offered (known as the “anchor”) when making decisions.

So what does that mean in practice? There’s one study I like in particular that illustrates the phenomenon of anchoring quite nicely.

The Gandhi Anchoring Study

The first group were asked: “Did Gandhi die before or after the age of 9?”.

This groups average answer was 50 years old.

The second group were asked: “Did Gandhi die before or after the age of 140?”.

This groups average answer was 67 years old.

Even though the anchor age numbers were outrageously high and low, the two groups still guessed significantly differently. The different ways the question was asked significantly affected their answers!

Anchoring And Pricing

Source: Deposit Photos

Most of us will find it fairly easy to be objective about the price tag on the left, but less so with the price tag on the right. We get anchored by the $1000, and in comparison the $300 seems like a great deal doesn’t it?!

Want to go deeper?

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Julia Clavien

Written by

Curious to a fault. Technology | Psychology | Philosophy. All opinion subject to change. ☺

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