An effect where an initial reference point can set expectations thereafter e.g. where a store flags up a standard price for a product and then follows this with a discounted version – rooting a consumer’s appraisal of value in the saving versus that original price. Anchoring is also why first impressions count so much – these influencing how everything else subsequently seen or felt is judged. When conducting research we have to be careful of the anchoring effect. This is why we rotate options on surveys and, within qualitative settings, show stimulus material in different orders to different sub-groups. If samples sizes are sufficiently large, it’s worth looking at scores when stimulus is shown first vs. when it’s seen later in the rotation order. The differences can be surprisingly large!
What is Anchoring?