Fantastic Advice On Manipulation

I found this study fascinating because the implications for manipulating people’s responses are strong. Gate fences in luxury

Situation 1.) I show you a picture of a large house and ask, “What do you think it costs? Is it less than $10,000?”


Situation 2.) I show you a picture of the same large house and ask, “What do you think it costs?  Is it more than $100,000,000?”

Both figures are blatantly out of touch and unreasonable. But – does that knowledge toss out the number? No. Let’s say that a reasonable price for the house in the photo is $400,000. In situation 1, when I asked if the house cost less than $10,000, you will guess a lower amount than in situation #2 because of the way I set you up. I gave you a ridiculously low amount, and you knew it, but it has influenced you to lower your guess about the true price. In situation 2, you will guess a higher number.

Why? The initial statements have provided a reference point, or anchor, for your guess. You can see how you can be led far afield by these initial comments – think salespeople, negotiators, managers discussing salary.  Like it or not, you will keep coming back to that original number and be influenced by it. This is why people are told to go ahead and open salary negotiations rather than waiting for someone else to begin – you set the anchor figure.

Source: Strack and Mussweiler, 1999.

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