Master Anchoring Psychology to Feel Better, Make Smarter Decisions, and Avoid Scams

anchoring psychology

Anchoring in psychology is a phenomenon of relativity. It’s described as a cognitive bias in which people place (often undue) emphasis on the first piece of information they see. This is problematic when that first piece of information is incorrect, but it can also be advantageous if used strategically.

Anchoring Psychology in Marketing

Anchoring is the most commonly used marketing tactic. Every sale or discount you see is an example of anchoring at a high price point to make a sales price more attractive. It could be argued that some forms of anchoring are unethical or deceptive, taking advantage of human psychology.

If a product is anchored at an artificially high price for the sole purpose of inflating the perceived value of said item, is that unethical?

Online “gurus” will claim their product or bundle of products is worth several thousand dollars. And then they will tell you the final price is only $47 or something. That seems like a screaming bargain, almost feeling you’re making money by taking the deal. But is it? The best way to answer that is to ask yourself if people would buy it for the advertised “value.”

Before I demonize anyone, this is a grey area. Every person who sells things must draw the line somewhere. If you take it to the extreme, you could say that any “sale price” is unethical because it uses anchoring. But some sales are genuine values of items that are truly worth a higher price. For example, I sell my Mini Habit Mastery video course for $49, but subscribers get a 10% discount and I also run other sales. The base price of $49 is reasonable and many have bought it for that.

It’s my general advice to be wary when someone starts assigning large values to their products or services without any precedent or way of demonstrating that value. Marketers will always offer discounts because it drives sales. But not all sales are equally fair to the customer. Sometimes, it’s a clever marketer taking advantage of anchoring for profit.

Anchoring for Well-Being

You can use anchoring psychology for greater happiness. It works in the opposite manner of the hedonic treadmill, in which your expectations for pleasure become anchored to such a high level that you feel miserable all of the time and feel compelled to chase euphoric feelings (which only makes it worse).

The way you feel about your life, and how you believe your life is going is completely subjective. Never forget that! Thus, the key to a sense of well being is to consciously choose your anchor points. Here are my recommendations for anchor points.

Anchor your pleasure in simplicity

Things like: a pleasant conversation, a nice breeze, a clean home, good food, good company, or a quiet morning

Not extremes: thrills, drugs, overly processed food (it delivers significant dopamine spikes), sex, gambling, alcohol, social media scrolling, or being the center of attention

This is not to say you can’t enjoy the more extreme pleasures of life. Enjoy yourself! This is just to say that if you anchor your sense of life pleasure in those high-dopamine activities, you won’t be satisfied by simpler things. Let the simpler pleasures of life be your base. Let them be enough. And then you will enjoy everything more.

Anchor your sense of success in things you control

Things like: a productive day, a job application, a sent email, a marketing effort, or trying your best

Not results: rejection, a failed product launch, an ignored email, or an unexpected emergency that ruined plans

Anchoring psychology is powerful. Simply being aware of this concept can help you avoid scams trying to take advantage of normal human psychology. It can also empower you to view your life in a healthier way. Ask yourself today: where am I anchoring my sense of pleasure and success in life? Is it simple, lightweight, and realistic with room for upside? Or am I suffocating myself under the weight of my expectations?

Regardless of what you’ve chosen before, today is unwritten. Choose your path.

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