/ Mini-COURSE: Be EffeCTS

The Anchoring Effect

"You never get a second chance at a first impression". This proverb, which everybody has heard at least once, describes the anchoring effect well. The first contact that we have with a person, an event, a category or a situation unconsciously coins the expectations for later experiences. A point of reference then exists for which we use to build an opinion about unknown issues, and at the same time gives us orientation.

That means: 

Our brain uses "drawers" in which it stores certain contents, for efficiency reasons, which it consults quickly at a later date. We use these "experience anchors" unconsciously as references. Depending on how the anchor is placed, our perception, our assessment and our decision is unconsciously influenced in similar experiences later.

So it becomes clear that it's really important for companies to put them in the right drawer from the very beginning, as this first impression is formative. When companies place the anchor in the right place with customers, they build on a stable foundation that can't be shaken easily.

The Roulette Wheel Experiment - Kahneman/Tversky

The participants of the experiment turned a "fixed" roulette wheel and either it stopped on one of two numbers (either 10 or 65), as a numeric "anchor". Later, the test persons were asked to guess how many percent of African countries are United Nations members. The results were astounding. Based on what numeric anchor they turned before on the roulette wheel influenced their estimations significantly. The mean of those who'd turned a 65 on the wheel was 45 %; those who'd turned a 10 on the wheel estimated the share of African UN member states to be 25% on average.


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