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Anchoring Bias in Transitions

Trevor O'Hara
1 min read
Anchoring Bias in Transitions
Photo by Giuseppe Famiani

You finally made a move to dump the demanding but high-paying job in the city. Finally, after a decade of living a fast-paced life in the corporate world, you're done.

You were suddenly offered a job in a quieter town with a slower pace of life. You accept the offer on the basis that if offered more work-life balance and better overall well-being.

Three months later, you're settled into your new job, but you find yourself struggling. The job is good, but you still miss the lifestyle and old salary that you had in the big city.

We often fall foul of anchoring bias any time we make a change in our lives. Even though the change might be beneficial, anchoring bias makes it difficult for us to move beyond our old experiences and fully embrace the new chapter in our lives.

After a painful breakup, we may find our new partner lacking in the quality of our old partner, despite the potential for greater satisfaction and love.

When we move overseas, we judge the local culture against our own and struggle to make new local friends, preferring to keep to our own nationality.

When switching to freelancing after a high-stress job, we miss the status and prestige of the former role, making it difficult to appreciate the benefits of increased flexibility, remote working, and no more office politics.

Our early ancestors needed to make rapid decisions based on limited information for our very survival. That's why our initial observations serve as 'anchors' to rapidly assess situations such as the proximity of a predator vs. the availability of food nearby.

While they are helpful in a primitive context, these biases can harm our decision-making process in today's rapidly evolving world. Recognizing anchoring bias when it occurs is critical in helping us to move on to new chapters in life. If not, they'll affect our life decisions.

As André Gide wrote, "(Man) cannot discover new oceans unless (he) has the courage to lose sight of the shore."