I am going to share my secret technology for losing weight. It’s a mental exercise that really works. It is inspired by the neuro-economics concept of “anchoring“. Here’s how it works:
Every morning you step on your scale, right? I do. Well let’s say my weight yesterday was 171lbs. Let’s say my goal weight is 165lbs. Before stepping on the scale, I think “165” and visualize seeing “165” on the read out. Then I step on the scale. I
see, let’s say, 170.5lbs. I am not surprised, but part of my subconscious is disappointed and I am re-motivated to keep working on it. My focus and motivation is pumped up. It works! (Patent pending 2011, R. Pito Salas)
Before this technique, I would step on the scale thinking, I hope that I am maybe half a pound less than yesterday, but anyway, it better not be up. So then I see 170.5lbs. And I am relieved and proud. My focus and motivation flags.
Hadn’t heard about anchoring before? Here’s a bit about it:
“During normal decision-making, anchoring occurs when individuals overly rely on a specific piece of information to govern their thought-process. Once the anchor is set, there is a bias toward adjusting or interpreting other information to reflect the “anchored” information. Through this cognitive bias, the first information learned about a subject (or, more generally, information learned at an early age) can affect future decision-making and information analysis.” (from Wikipedia)
“Take the last three digits of your social security number. Turn those numbers into a dollar value (i.e., if your numbers are 462 then they provide a value of $462). Consider whether you would be willing to pay that dollar amount for a first edition of JRR Tolkienâs, The Hobbit. Now, how much would you actually pay for a first edition original copy?
A stylized result from laboratory experiments in economics and psychology is that a subjectâs answer to the latter valuation question is strongly influenced by the dollar amount computed from their social security numbers, whether for ordinary consumer products or exotic goods.1 Based on the premise that the randomly determined value should contain no useful information, critics of neoclassical theory have argued that such findings refute the notion that decision makersâ preferences are consistent and stable.
A natural conclusion is that if preferences are unduly labile and influenced by innocuous properties of circumstance, then no optimization principles may underlie even straightforward individual economic decisions.” (from University of Alaska)