Anchoring (also known as the primacy effect) is simply the effect that dictates that a person will use the first impression of something as the filter for every subsequent interaction.

The Persuasion Psychology Behind the Technique

Rigidity works due to two main reasons:

  • The first is breaking the person. When someone has to accept how you do things, they are instantly more qualified. They obey, in a way;
  • The second is the increased complexity of the process. Research shows that making a progress more complex makes less people start it, but out of the ones that do start it, more will finish;

Anchoring works through the primacy effect. In other words, our first impression is disproportionately remembered, many times regardless of opposing evidence that comes after.

Although a first anchored impression can be reversed, it’s very hard to do so, and it usually stays, even if only to an extent.


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Examples (Positioning)

A feature, not a bug

Very used in the tech world, especially for startups. Any problem can be converted into a feature. Overheating becomes a device that is a warmer as well. No Wi-Fi makes the device a “distraction-free” one

"What do you prefer?"

A very good question to wrap up perceived contrast. List the negatives of the other side and the positives of yours, and simply ask, “What do you prefer?”. “This candidate is known for having bad reviews, has no proof or support. My candidate has a lot of testimonials and past performance. John, which do you prefer for this opening?”

"Vision or no vision?"

An example of using perceived contrast for a Passionate. “John, [ABC] will not respect your vision or let you be an inspiration. On the other hand, we will focus on making you a reference, getting you results so you can celebrate. Which do you prefer?”;

Examples (Provoking objections)

"I need you to support X"

When the person is eager to buy or sign a contract, but respect is more important than the money, the expert may anchor them on that as well. “If you sign this contract, I need you to realize that you need to listen to me and respect my authority at all times, more importantly than the payment. Is this OK?”

"This won't be easy"

When someone is pitching something, but they don’t want you to underestimate it, they may tell you this; “Just to make sure before we begin, this won’t be easy. Are you still in?”

"Salary, teams, terms"

Telling your boss, or a hiring manager, “I will only accept this position if I have [ABC] salary, if I can pick my team, and other terms. Are you still interested?”

Use Cases For the Four Quadrants

Key Takeaways
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How to Stack This Technique