What Is The Anchoring Effect?

Have you ever noticed an opinion you had seemed right until you heard all the facts and realized, you were completely unaware of how off your opinion was?


This is considered the anchoring effect. When you already attempt to grasp into a self-made opinion before you even know what you are talking about.

What Really Is It?

It was found by two psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahnemean who discovered we have a tendency to grasp what we think we understand right away.

It’s our cognitive bias to accept the first piece of information given to us giving us an anchoring point.

Having this anchoring point shapes our judgement creating either a positive or negative bias toward what we develop ourselves.

Think of it like this. You tune into a political debate and hear one of the candidates say something you don’t agree with. You are more likely to not agree with whatever they might say next, even though you could’ve seen something else they said first, and decided you like what they have to say.

You can easily see how this effect can be negative considering it relates to our human tendency to form our own opinions as fast as possible.

Why Is It A Thing?

Unfortunately, it’s human nature to follow this effect because we want to feel like we understand something, right as we are involved in it.

A lot of it could be relating to our mood at the time, or our previous experience giving us the feeling of further understanding in something we might know nothing about.

Our personality also takes part in that everyone has a level of agreeableness, and those with a higher chance to agree with something will often go to agreement first. However, if you’re more of an extrovert, this might not happen as much.

You could say it comes from a level of selfishness, but we just can’t help it.

We look to like or dislike something before we fully develop an understanding for it.

Disregarding political standpoints or our own opinions, you can see this effect take place oftentimes when we know we don’t fully understand something.

Another example I’ve come up with relating to this effect is bringing in something to a pawn shop to get it appraised and sell it. You have no idea of it’s worth and the initial reaction of the one doing the appraisal willing to buy will shape whether you think it really is worth something or not.

Thinking of it that way, you can take advantage of this effect yourself, but have to be cautious that this is a powerful effect that we can hardly rid ourselves of.


Is It A Good Or A Bad Thing?

If you’ve only just now heard of the effect, and only have the understanding of it from what I’ve stated so far, you will probably see it as negative.

However, that in itself is the the effect taking place.

Because you might not have known of it, you’re using me to develop your understanding and going on a level of agreement based on my opinion of it.

Some can say this effect is a good thing but I truly do see it as a mostly negative effect.

It limits our level of self-awareness to a situation and forces us to grab onto the first thing we understand making it hardly our own opinion.

It constraints our ability to think further into something because we want to feel we understand it before we actually do understand it.


How Can You Avoid The Anchoring Effect?

Although it’s hard to avoid because it’s embedded within us to attempt to understand, you can notice when the effect is taking place and realize when you should be listening more, instead of feeling you fully grasp it.

In a way, knowing about the effect can already help you to avoid it.

You have to learn to stop fully accepting something before all the information is given to you, or else you’ll be a victim of the effect. Be open to formulate your own opinion, but not prematurely.

Notice when you are being told your opinion vs when you are making it own your own and taking into consideration if you actually held the opposite opinion. What would you think?

A lot of this takes place in advertising. Seeing something you think is worth a lot, when really you are being told it is worth a lot. See for yourself. Be open to questioning something and give yourself the space to interpret the information before whatever gets to your head first takes over and stops your mind from being open.

Did I influence you at all while you read this? Possibly, yea. That isn’t to say you are being negatively effected by me. Who knows. I could be giving you the right information or just be persuading you without your knowing.

Being cautious of this effect is obviously a good thing, whether you want to learn to use it or stay away from it. It can help you, but it can also destroy you.

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