The anchoring effect, also known as anchoring bias, is a cognitive bias that describes the common tendency to give too much weight to the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions. The anchoring effect is considered a “bias” because it distorts our judgment, especially when the bargaining zone is unclear. This knowledge of the anchoring bias in negotiation can help us make and respond to first offers more effectively.

In negotiation, anchoring is the tendency for the first offer to “anchor” the bargaining that follows in its direction, even if the offer recipient thinks the offer is out of line. This is because the first offer sets a reference point for the other party, and they will tend to adjust their own offers based on that reference point.

There are a few things you can do to avoid being anchored in a negotiation:

By following these tips, you can avoid being anchored in a negotiation and increase your chances of success.

Here are some examples of anchoring in negotiation:

In all of these cases, the anchoring effect can lead to a suboptimal outcome for one or both parties. By being aware of the anchoring effect, you can avoid being influenced by the first offer and negotiate a better outcome for yourself.

A great literature review on anchoring in negotiation can be found in: Lipp, W. E. & Smolinski, R. & Kesting, P., (2022) “Toward a Process Model of First Offers and Anchoring in Negotiations”Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 16(1). doi: