220. Anchoring Effect

220. Anchoring Effect

I was due for a haircut. I wasn’t sure if the barbershop was allowed to open, so I googled. I found out it can open with limited capacity. So I messaged the barber I always go to. (Though he works at a barbershop, I personally message him to make an appointment, not through the shop) But he told me to come to his spot instead, as the barbershop is closed. Still thinking a haircut is allowed, I went to his place at the side of his home without much question and got a haircut.

After coming home, Jennifer told me she tried to book her haircut after hearing my information but couldn’t because they are all closed due to lockdown. Then the light bulb went on. So I googled again and realized the information I initially found was from the news published right before the lockdown. I felt embarrassed. Though I did it out of ignorance (and haste), I just broke the rule that might have jeopardized the safety of many.

There is a cognitive bias called the “Anchoring effect.” It describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (or discovered), the “anchor” when making decisions. Shoppers usually experience this when seeing the sale items. Though the price is still high, if the “initial price” (anchor) was much higher, they gladly buy it thinking they got a great deal. But it is a “bias” that often works against our favour. And I just learned it through my own experience.

Honour is very important to me, so I felt embarrassed and started thinking about justifying or hiding what I just did. (human instinct!) But Jennifer lightly told me to come clean and tell people what I did. She knew I would be hard on myself for making such a mistake. And she reminded me that people like leaders who are genuine, not perfect. What she said helped me to look through the “pastor Caleb” and face up to “Caleb,” the one prone to sinning just like everyone else. Acknowledging that I am still far from who I want to be was not humiliating but liberating because of God’s grace perfected in my weakness.

Someone said the most dangerous bias is the one we are not aware of. Through this incident, I decided to be more mindful of my own bias and be less critical of others.