Choosing not to get anchored: A choice mindset reduces the anchoring bias

Krishna Savani, Monica Wadhwa

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


In negotiations, first offers serve as potent anchors. After receiving a first offer, although people clearly have a choice about what amount to counteroffer, they often fail to adjust away from the first offer. We identify a simple nudge, a reminder that people have a choice, that can reduce the anchoring bias. We argue that a choice nudge leads people to think of more potential counteroffers that they can make, which reduces the extent to which they are anchored to the first offer. Seven studies conducted with US residents recruited from online research platforms tested this hypothesis. We found that merely reminding buyers that they have a choice led them to anchor away from sellers' first offers in a painting buying task (Studies 1 and 2) and a used car negotiation (Study 3). A choice reminder nudged people to consider more counteroffers (Study 4a) and asking people to consider more counteroffers reduced the anchoring bias (Study 4b). Consistent with the idea that thinking of counteroffers requires cognitive resources, we found that the effect of a choice nudge is attenuated under high cognitive load (Study 5). Study 6 ruled out an alternative motivational account for the choice nudge effect. This research contributes to the choice mindset literature by showing that highlighting the semantic concept of choice can help correct a pervasive decision-making bias, and to the anchoring literature by showing that thinking of more counteroffers can reduce the anchoring bias, at least in contexts in which the direction of adjustment from the anchor is known.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104575
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Anchoring
  • Bargaining
  • Choice mindset
  • Negotiations
  • Nudge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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