What Persuasion and Anchors Have in Common

In a previous post, I wrote about the concept of anchoring: When it comes to numbers, we “anchor” to whatever number we hear first regarding a specific topic. Click here for more details.

Another component of anchoring, and one that is much more difficult to control but still worthy of consideration, is that of unrelated anchors. This can occur when numbers with no relevance to your initiative can nevertheless influence your target’s thinking.

In one study, participants were shown a bottle of wine and asked to estimate the highest dollar amount they would pay for that particular bottle. Before they wrote down their bid, subjects were asked to jot down the last two digits of their social security numbers. Those that had the highest social security number digits also bid the highest for the wine. The participants anchored to a totally unrelated number, which influenced their response.

If you are presenting numbers for the first time in a meeting, take into consideration whether your target is being exposed to other numbers prior to your presentation. If so, those numbers could impact the perception of your request. If you can adjust the agenda to give your good idea the best chances of success, do so.

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