Hack #4: Framing & Anchoring

Tim Houlihan

Pre-suasion relies on two key psychological tools: framing and anchoring. Think of anchoring when you see a shirt you like, and the tag has $280 crossed out with the number $95 in red below it. A great deal. You buy it. You saved $185. Or did you? What if the shirt was marked at $95 with no discount – would you have paid $95 without the discount?

Framing is like a leading question – and this is important. It’s the difference between a product that has an 80 percent success rate and one that has a 20 percent failure rate. Of course in this context that you’re reading it, and you know it’s the same product, we think that it doesn’t matter. But that is because we’re comparing them side by side. But who buys peanut butter that has “only 20 percent fat?” Nobody. Everyone buys peanut butter that is “80 percent fat free.”

The ways in which you do your work probably align (somewhat) with these hacks. And you are probably giving yourself credit for doing these things successfully. Remember that 85 percent of all drivers believe they’re better than average. Your confidence might be misplaced and it’s worth taking a closer look at these hacks, notice how you’re currently doing things, and make adjustments.

Most importantly, Cialdini reminded me that we must use these tools ethically. They are powerful. Since pre-suasion acts on the unconscious, it’s likely that no one will know you’re using these tools. As a professional, take them seriously and use them judiciously.

Manipulation is not a sign of success and getting good results with malevolent intent should not be rewarded. However, using these hacks ethically is a great way to help your clients through decisions.