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anchoring

What is Anchoring in Negotiation?

Should you make the first offer in a negotiation? Typically yes, abundant research on the anchoring bias suggests.

In many negotiations, the party who moves first typically benefits by “anchoring” the discussion that follows on an offer—even if the anchor is arbitrary.

The anchoring bias, or 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 their groundbreaking research from the 1970s, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky showed that when we’re asked to make a judgment in the face of uncertainty, we are easily swayed by the first figure that’s introduced into the conversation, however irrelevant, outrageous, or insulting it may seem. The first number serves as an “anchor” that’s almost impossible to forget.

There is one situation in which making the first offer is not to your advantage: when the other side has much more information than you do about the item to be negotiated or about the relevant market or industry.

This doesn’t mean you should sit back and let the other side make the first offer. Rather, this is your opportunity to level the playing field by gathering more information. The well-prepared negotiator will feel confident about making the first offer and anchoring the negotiation in their favor.

And if the other side does make the first offer? Base your counteroffer on the same information you would use to construct a first offer, namely your ideal outcome and your knowledge of the other party’s alternatives and likely reservation price.

To learn more about anchoring, and how to negotiate successfully, you can download a complimentary copy of our special report, Negotiation Skills: Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques to Help You Become a Better Negotiator, right now!

The following items are tagged anchoring:

Negotiation Advice: When to Make the First Offer in Negotiation

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

When or when not to make the first offer in negotiations is a question many expert negotiators ask themselves when approaching business negotiations, real estate transactions, or even interpersonal negotiations with friends and family. In this article drawn from negotiation research, we offer negotiating skills and negotiation tips for when, and when not, to make … Read  

Sales Negotiation Techniques

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

In sales negotiations, making the first offer is often a smart move. The first offer can anchor the discussion that follows and can have a powerful effect on the final outcome. But if the other party makes the first offer, you’ll need to be prepared to frame your counteroffer carefully. What is framing in negotiation? It … Read  

Teaching the Fundamentals: The Best Introductory Negotiation Role Play Simulations

Posted by & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

Introductory negotiation courses are taught in law and business schools around the world, but are also increasingly taught to undergraduates and in all types of corporate settings. No matter the context, though, the basic elements of negotiation are roughly similar. Teaching interest-based negotiation, the Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA), the Best Alternative to a Negotiated … Read  

Negotiation Research Says to Make Stronger First Offers in Multi-Issue Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Should you make the first offer in a negotiation? What about multi-issue negotiations? It’s not a trivial question. The negotiator who makes the first offer can powerfully anchor the discussion in her favor, research has found. In fact, the first offer accounts for between 50% and 85% of the variance in a negotiation’s final outcome, Adam … Read  

Power in Negotiation: The Impact on Negotiators and the Negotiation Process

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

According to Dacher Keltner of the University of California at Berkeley and his colleagues, power in negotiation affects two primary neurological regulators of behavior: the behavioral approach system and the behavioral inhibition system. Powerful negotiators demonstrate “approach related” behaviors such as expressing positive moods and searching for rewards in their environment. … Read  

Using Integrative Negotiation Techniques to Close the Deal

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

Like a contingency, a condition to a deal is a related though far less common deal-structuring technique. A condition is an ‘if’ statement like a contingency, but, whereas a contingency depends on unknown future events, a condition is entirely within the control of the parties involved. … Read  

What is Anchoring in Negotiation?

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Consider this anchoring bias example from Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School faculty member Guhan Subramanian. While running a negotiation simulation in one of his classes, Subramanian noticed that one student spent a considerable amount of time explaining why $10.69 per hour would be an impossible wage rate to offer the student’s counterpart. The … Read  

Parker-Gibson All-In-One Curriculum Package is Now Available!

Posted by & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

New to Teaching Negotiation?  If you are new to teaching negotiation or are looking to go in-depth on the fundamental negotiation concepts, the Parker-Gibson All-In-One Curriculum Package will provide you with everything you need to teach negotiation. Parker-Gibson, one of the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center’s most popular simulations, is a two-party, single-issue, distributive negotiation between two neighbors regarding the potential sale … Read  

Win-Win Bargaining: Private Negotiation, Public Auction, or Both?

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

When Amazon and Apple each began scouting locations for a new campus in 2017, we might have expected them to follow similar negotiating strategies aimed at win-win bargaining. In fact, their searches were very different:

Amazon set off a frenzy in September 2017 when it announced it was soliciting bids from cities interested in hosting its second headquarters, … Read  

Should Salary Expectations Be a Laughing Matter?

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

In salary negotiations, job candidates are often at a disadvantage relative to the hiring organization. Due to the well-documented anchoring effect, the first figure introduced into the discussion tends to strongly influence the salary expectations. Unfortunately for candidates, the first figure mentioned in a negotiation often is not in their favor. For example, when opening salary … Read  

When First Offers Fail In a Negotiation

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

In negotiation, the party who makes the first offer often gets the lion’s share of the value. That can be due to the anchoring effect, or the tendency for first offers to “anchor” the bargaining that follows in its direction, even if the offer recipient thinks the offer is out of line. Yet plenty of times, … Read  

When a Little Power is a Dangerous Thing

Posted by & filed under Salary Negotiations.

In 1975, Leigh Steinberg launched his career as a sports agent by proving that even a little power can be a dangerous thing. He faced what appeared to be a tough negotiation with the Atlanta Falcons. The team had chosen Steinberg’s client, rookie quarterback Steve Bartkowski, as their first pick in the first round of … Read  

In Negotiation, it’s All in the Timing

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

Back on July 11, 2000, U.S. president Bill Clinton welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to a summit at Camp David aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all. The summit covered various contentious issues, including territory, settlements, security, and the status of refugees. After about two weeks, … Read  

The Anchoring Heuristic: Anchoring for Maximum Effect

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

It’s said that you never get a second chance to make a great first impression, and that certainly can be the case in negotiation. A weak handshake or a gruff demeanor can color how we see someone for a very long time. Similarly, make an unambitious or poorly worded first offer, and you’re much less … Read  

How Much Does Personality in Negotiation Matter?

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

We tend to have strong intuitions about which personality traits help or hurt us in negotiation, but does research on the topic confirm our hunches? Does personality in negotiation matter? Before we explore this topic, please answer “True” or “False” in response to the following questions: 1. Extroverted negotiators tend to perform better than introverted negotiators. 2. Agreeable … Read  

Price Anchoring 101

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Opening offers have a strong effect in price negotiations. The first offer typically serves as an anchor that strongly influences the discussion that follows. In research documenting price anchoring, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky found that even random numbers can have a dramatic impact on people’s subsequent judgments and decisions. … Read  

An Example of the Anchoring Effect

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

People tend to irrationally fixate on the first number put forth in a negotiation—the anchor—no matter how arbitrary it may be. Even when we know the anchor has limited relevance, we fail to sufficiently adjust our judgments away from it. This is the anchoring effect. … Read  

5 Good Negotiation Techniques

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

You’ve mastered the basics of good negotiation techniques: you prepare thoroughly, take time to build rapport, make the first offer when you have a strong sense of the bargaining range, and search for wise tradeoffs across issues to create value. Now, it’s time to absorb five lesser-known but similarly effective negotiation topics and techniques that … Read  

Negotiation research you can use: When offers are more appealing than requests

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

In 2015, the government of Greece approached the European Union regarding a new bailout package by requesting a six-month loan extension. The request was rejected within five hours. Four months later, Greece offered new budget proposals in return for an extended bailout package. This time, the proposal led to agreement. The anecdote begs the question, Do … Read  

How to Use MESOs in Business Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

It’s not uncommon in business negotiations to find yourself on the brink of impasse. You and your counterpart have exchanged a series of offers and counteroffers, and you’ve met somewhere close to the middle—but not close enough. With each side firmly rooted in its position, there may seem to be no way forward. … Read  

Check Out Our Advanced Search Tool! Find New Teaching Materials in Seconds

Posted by & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

The Advanced Materials Search feature allows you to search for teaching materials based on nine different categories, including time required, number of parties, and the negotiation concepts you want to teach. The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) is pleased to announce the launch of our new Advanced Materials Search, which allows you to quickly find the … Read  

How to Bargain Salary: Laughing Matters?

Posted by & filed under Salary Negotiations.

As they contemplate how to bargain salary, job candidates are often at a disadvantage relative to the hiring organization. Due to the well-documented anchoring effect, the first figure introduced into a negotiation tends to strongly influence the final outcome. Unfortunately for candidates, the wage or wage range that employers give in a job listing or … Read  

How to Counteroffer in Business Negotiation

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

Imagine you’ve received a salary offer for a new job that’s less than you’d hoped for, or a client has delivered a “take it or leave it” ultimatum. While there is ample advice available to negotiators on how to make the first offer in negotiation, the question of how to counteroffer in business negotiations often … Read  

In a Price Negotiation, Should You Make the First Offer?

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

Imagine yourself in a dilemma that only a privileged few experience: You’ve fallen in love with a dazzling, one-of-a-kind home that’s on the market without a list price. Instead, the seller’s broker encourages you to name your price. You’re unsure how much to offer—yet desperate to win the prize.  Leaving the sale price off of a … Read  

10 Popular Business Negotiation Articles

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

Here are ten popular business negotiation articles on the Program on Negotiation website. Drawn from a variety of negotiation case studies as well as negotiation research, the following articles offer strategies for engaging in integrative negotiations aimed at creating win-win scenarios for each party at the negotiation table. 1. What is the Right of First Refusal? Rights … Read  

Effective Negotiation Techniques: Strive for a Precision Advantage

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

As you may have noticed, the first offer made in a negotiation often has a significant influence on the final outcome. In their research, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky documented that the first number introduced in a negotiation serves as an “anchor” that can be impossible to ignore—no matter how irrelevant, outrageous, or insulting … Read  

The Anchoring Bias Can Get Talks off to a Strong Start

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Should you make the first offer in a negotiation? Typically yes, abundant research on the anchoring bias suggests. What is anchoring in negotiation? In negotiations centered on price or another figure, the party who moves first typically benefits by “anchoring” the discussion that follows on her offer—even if the anchor is arbitrary. For example, the … Read  

Compensation Negotiation Tips for Salary Bargaining

Posted by & filed under Salary Negotiations.

Job candidates are often eager for compensation negotiation tips, and with good reason: they tend to be at a bargaining disadvantage relative to the hiring organization. Due to the well-documented anchoring effect, the first figure introduced into the discussion can strongly influence the final outcome—and the wage or wage range cited by employers is likely … Read  

Deal Design Guidelines: Set Yourself Up for a Better Deal

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

Without realizing it, we leave many of our most important decisions in negotiation up to chance. When talking to a potential negotiating partner, we may assume that we have met the best person possible to do this particular deal. We make tacit assumptions about whether we’ll negotiate in person, what we’ll discuss, how long the … Read  

What is the Anchoring Bias?

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

It may be the most burning question in business negotiation: Should you make the first offer? Traditionally, negotiators were advised to wait for the other side to make a first offer. According to this reasoning, the other side’s offer gives you valuable information about his goals and alternatives. More recently, however, research on the anchoring bias has … Read  

Leadership Style Assessment: Road Map for Podemos in Spain

Posted by & filed under Leadership Skills.

The skills required for honing an effective participative leadership style have a great deal in common with those used by good negotiators. Following the May 24, 2015 municipal elections in Spain, all of those skills are being put to the test. The elections delivered a stunning rebuke to the incumbent conservative Popular Party of Mariano … Read  

Satisficing and Negotiation

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

It stands to reason that devoting less time to relatively unimportant choices should free you up for more meaningful pursuits and increase your overall satisfaction. But how does the concept of satisficing apply to your most important decisions and negotiations? … Read  

When Forming First Offers, Take Precision into Account

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

What should your first offer be in a negotiation? The question doubtless has led to sleepless nights for negotiators who understand that the first offer in a negotiation tends to have a strong anchoring effect on the haggling that may follow. Because even extreme offers can pull the discussion in their direction, the question of how … Read  

A Negotiation Back on the Rails with Transactional Leadership

Posted by & filed under Leadership Skills.

Crumbling transportation infrastructure has become a serious issue across the country. Nowhere is this problem more acute than the nation’s capitol, where the forty year-old Metro has been plagued by ineffective, bureaucratic leadership, and is now on the verge of collapse. New Metro Chairman Jack Evans aims to tackle those problems head-on, but he drew … Read  

Tough Negotiation Tips from Jennifer Aniston?

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Fans of the television show Friends got a treat last month when Netflix made all 236 episodes of the blockbuster hit available to stream online. At first glance actors Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston and the rest of the star-studded cast might not be your first pick to peg as formidable negotiators, but at the height … Read  

How Mental Shortcuts Lead to Misjudging

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Judges don’t make decisions based on a thorough accounting of all the relevant and available information. Instead, like all of us, they rely on heuristics – simple mental shortcuts – to make decisions. As many past articles have noted, heuristics often lead to good decisions, but they can also create cognitive blinders that produce systematic … Read  

Knowledge of Biases as an Influencing Tool

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Past Negotiation articles have highlighted many of the cognitive biases likely to confront negotiators. Work by researchers Russell B. Korobkin of UCLA and Chris P. Guthrie of Vanderbilt University suggests how to turn knowledge of four specific biases into tools of persuasion. … Read  

Anchor Trials or Balloons in Conflict Resolution

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution.

The power of anchors in negotiation has been demonstrated time and again. Sellers who demand more tend to get more. Indeed, the initial asking price is usually the best predictor of the final agreement. A trio of researchers may have found an important exception to this rule, however; lower starting numbers set by the seller in … Read  

The Enduring Power of Anchors

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

In past issues of Negotiation, we’ve reviewed the anchoring effect – the tendency for negotiators to be overly influenced by the other side’s opening bid, however arbitrary. When your opponent makes an inappropriate bid on your house, you’re nonetheless likely to begin searching for data that confirms the anchor’s viability. This testing is likely to … Read  

Conflict Management – Evenhanded Decision Making

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution.

As discussed in past articles, anchoring and framing can bias important decisions in negotiation. A buyer may make a more generous offer than she intended, for example, after a seller drops anchor on a bold demand. A litigant who focuses on his chances of winning in court – a positive frame – may be less … Read  

Avoid judicial bias with negotiation

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution, Daily.

Adapted from “Blind Justice? Think Twice Before Going to Court,” by Chris Guthrie (professor, Vanderbilt University Law School), first published in the Negotiation newsletter, April 2007. Planning to resolve a personal or business dispute in court? Consider that judges don’t make decisions based on a thorough accounting of all the relevant and available information.  Instead, like … Read  

Anchors Away?

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Adapted from “The Enduring Power of Anchors,” first published in the Negotiation newsletter, October 2006. In the Negotiation newsletter, we have reviewed the anchoring effect—the tendency for negotiators to be overly influenced by the other side’s opening bid, however arbitrary. When your opponent makes an inappropriate bid on your house, you’re nonetheless likely to begin searching … Read  

The Ambidextrous Negotiator

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Adapted from “Evenhanded Decision Making,” first published in the Negotiation newsletter, May 2006. As discussed in past issues of the Negotiation newsletter, anchoring and framing can bias important decisions in negotiation. A buyer may make a more generous offer than she intended, for example, after a seller drops anchor on a bold demand. A litigant who … Read  

Advertising at a charity walk

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations, Daily.

The PON Clearinghouse offers hundreds of role simulations, from two-party, single-issue negotiations to complex multi-party exercises. Ocean Splash is a two-party, two-issue scoreable negotiation between a charity and a corporate sponsor regarding the number and placement of advertising banners at a fundraising walk. SCENARIO: The U.S. Cancer Association (USCA) chapter in Sixton City is organizing its … Read  

Budget turmoil inside a hospital

Posted by & filed under Daily, Negotiation Skills.

The PON Clearinghouse offers hundreds of role simulations, from two-party, single-issue negotiations to complex multi-party exercises. Negotiating Budget Cuts at Newtowne Hospital is a six-person negotiation among hospital administration and employee representatives to reach consensus on budget cuts in three departments. SCENARIO: Dr. Van Hagen, a distinguished heart surgeon, will soon join the staff at Newtowne Hospital, … Read  

Dropping anchors

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations, Daily.

Adapted from “Anchors or Trial Balloons?”, first published in the Negotiation newsletter. The power of anchors in negotiation has been demonstrated time and again. Sellers who demand more tend to get more. Indeed, the initial asking price is usually the best predictor of the final agreement. A trio of researchers may have found an important exception … Read  

Making the first move

Posted by & filed under Daily, Negotiation Skills.

Adapted from “Should You Make the First Offer?” by Adam D. Galinsky (Professor, Northwestern University). First published in Negotiation Newsletter. Whether negotiators are bidding on a firm, seeking agreement on a compensation package, or bargaining over a used car, someone has to make the first offer. Should it be you, or should you wait to … Read