Anchoring or focalism is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily, or "anchor," on one trait or piece of information when making decisions. For an article about the conceptual problems of the mind see Cognitive closure (philosophy.
During normal decision making, individuals anchor, or overly rely, on specific information or a specific value and then adjust to that value to account for other elements of the circumstance. Usually once the anchor is set, there is a bias toward that value.
Take, for example, a person looking to buy a used car. They may focus excessively on the odometer reading and model year of the car, and use those criteria as a basis for evaluating the value of the car, rather than considering how well the engine or the transmission is maintained.
Anchoring and adjustment is a psychological heuristic that influences the way people intuitively assess probabilities. heuristic (hyu̇-ˈris-tik is a method to help solve a problem commonly an informal method According to this heuristic, people start with an implicitly suggested reference point (the "anchor") and make adjustments to it to reach their estimate.
The anchoring and adjustment heuristic was first theorized by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. Amos Nathan Tversky, PhD (עמוס טברסקי March 16, 1937 - June 2, 1996) was a cognitive and mathematical psychologist Daniel Kahneman (דניאל כהנמן (born 5 March 1934 is an Israeli American psychologist and Nobel laureate, notable for his work on In one of their first studies, the two showed that when asked to guess the percentage of African nations which are members of the United Nations, people who were first asked "Was it more or less than 45%?" guessed lower values than those who had been asked if it was more or less than 65%. The pattern has held in other experiments for a wide variety of different subjects of estimation. Others have suggested that anchoring and adjustment affects other kinds of estimates, like perceptions of fair prices and good deals.
Some experts say that these findings suggest that in a negotiation, participants should begin from extreme initial positions.
As a second example, consider an illustration presented by MIT professor Dan Ariely. Dan Ariely is the James B Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University. An audience is first asked to write the last 2 digits of their social security number, and, second, to submit mock bids on items such as wine and chocolate. The half of the audience with higher two-digit numbers would submit bids that were between 60 percent and 120 percent more," far higher than a chance outcome; the simple act of thinking of the first number strongly influences the second, even though there is no logical connection between them.