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Anchoring Bias

The first piece of information we receive determines our decisions.

What is it?

When anchoring bias takes over, we tend to make decisions based on the first piece of information we have and interpret any new information we receive from the reference point of that anchor. For example, we tend to think the cheaper product is better when someone places an expensive product next to a less expensive one.

What impact does it have on our decisions and actions?

When we make decisions, we start with certain assumptions and work our way through the process based on those assumptions. Also, we are prone to priming. We tend to make decisions based on the context someone primed us with. We ignore the intrinsic value of our choices because of Anchoring Bias. When we anchor our decision to a specific piece of information, we tend to filter any new information that might help us to make an informed and better decision using the mental model we initially drew up in our head. Anchoring Bias leads to other cognitive biases. It forces us to delay action or make choices that hurt our well-being.

How can we teach our students to avoid it?

Anchoring Bias is a powerful subconscious phenomenon. As a result, it is difficult to interrupt it. Thinking through our decisions several times over will only make the effect of anchoring bias stronger. We tend to resist anything that questions our subconsciously rooted beliefs. Therefore, we must teach our students to be comfortable with criticism. We found that practising Red Teaming helps students become comfortable with criticism. Cyber Security Agencies and Law Enforcement Agencies use Red Teaming to prevent Anchoring Bias from influencing their decisions. The concept of Red Teaming involves deliberately challenging and criticising plans, policies, and assumptions by playing the role of an enemy or an outsider. We must teach the Tenth Man Rule to our students to take Red Teaming to the next level. The job of the tenth man is to look for Black Swans. A Black Swan is an unpredictable event beyond what we usually expect of a situation. The Tenth Man Rule does not mean that there have to be ten people in the group. A group member rises above groupthink and asks 'What-if?' questions about the proposed theories or ideas.


This post is from a #TeachwithInnerkern series.

Main Post: How can we help our students learn to avoid Cognitive Biases?

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