You’re at a market stall (or buying in an online marketplace) and considering buying a new table when the seller opens the negotiation at an extraordinarily high price. It might be that the seller is setting a high reference point for the upcoming negotiation on price – a type of “anchoring”. The thinking trap is also a familiar dynamic on restaurant menus and wine lists (such as those expensive bottles that few people buy but that can make moderately priced tipples seem cheap in comparison). Our What is… anchoring explains that this effect comes into play for large purchases (such as homes or cars) as well as investments, so it can pay to be aware.
Set your own rules
Anchoring is a tool that menu designers, market shall holders and others may try to use. So how do we become wise to it? Being aware is a good first step. When you see an expensive bottle on the wine list or a stallholder opens a trade at a high figure, try taking a moment to asses if it’s changed your perceptions of price. Perhaps you can put yourself in control by knowing how much you want to pay before going for dinner or hitting the market and use that price as your guide.