The Ugly Truth of How Biases Impact Our Decision Making

Jennifer Chan
Simple, Not Easy
Published in
5 min readApr 28, 2020

--

An exploration into how anchoring bias impact our judgment.

Anchoring

As he explains in his Nobel Prize-winning book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” Daniel Kahneman vehemently disagreed with Amos Tversky, his longtime research partner, as to how and where anchoring impacted judgment.

While Kahneman argued that anchors primed us through association, a defect of the automatic nature of System 1, Tversky believed that we created predictions through a continuous, intentional process of “moving” away from an anchor until we reached the boundary of uncertainty.

It wasn’t until Tversky’s passing that both theories were independently verified. In other words, there are two types of anchoring and both can impact our judgment in insidious ways.

The Impact of Anchors on Judicial Decision Making

In 2006, the German Research Foundation conducted a series of studies into whether irrelevant anchors impact judicial sentencing decisions. Given that sentencing should be guided by facts not chance, the results were scary. For brevity, I will summarize two of the four studies and their corresponding results.

Study 1: A Telephone Call from a Journalist

--

--

Jennifer Chan
Simple, Not Easy

Productivity, craftsmanship, and the pursuit of excellence at work. Writing now at jennifertchan.substack.com.