Anchoring is a particular form of priming effect whereby initial exposure to a number serves as a reference point and influences subsequent judgments about value. The process usually occurs without our awareness (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974), and sometimes it occurs when people’s price perceptions are influenced by reference points. For example, the price of the first house shown to us by an estate agent may serve as an anchor and influence perceptions of houses subsequently presented to us (as relatively cheap or expensive). These effects have also been shown in consumer behavior whereby not only explicit slogans to buy more (e.g. “Buy 18 Snickers bars for your freezer”), but also purchase quantity limits (e.g. “limit of 12 per person”) or ‘expansion anchors’ (e.g. “101 uses!”) can increase purchase quantities (Wansink, Kent, & Hoch, 1998).
Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science (New Series), 185, 1124-1131.
Wansink, B., Kent, R. J., & Hoch, S. J. (1998). An anchoring and adjustment model of purchase quantity decisions. Journal of Marketing Research, 35(1), 71–81.