Don’t Let Anchoring Bias Weigh Down Your Judgment

It happens just about every time I go to a restaurant with my daughter. I open the menu and scan the options. Then I glance at the children’s menu. Oftentimes, the menu is pretty similar, with the same pasta and tomato sauce. But the items on the children’s menu are usually less expensive, and I’ll think to myself: Wow, good deal.

If I think again for a moment, though, the deal isn’t really a deal. After all, I estimated the cost of the pasta based on the adult menu, not the actual cost of making some bow-tie noodles and serving them with a red-tinted sauce.

My faulty reasoning is the product of anchoring, a cognitive bias that can undermine our critical thinking. According to researchers, anchoring is when people rely on irrelevant but easily accessible facts to make judgments. Our minds give too much weight to initial impressions or numbers that influence — our subsequent thoughts. In my case, the prices on the adult menu shaped — or anchored —…

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This article was written by Helen Lee Bouygues and originally published on