Nobody likes losing, but you might be surprised by just how much we hate it. Psychologists have found that the negative feeling of losing is much stronger than the positive feeling of gaining something. For example, let’s say someone offers to flip a coin where you’ll lose $10 on tails. How much would you want to win on heads before accepting the bet? Based on previous research, you’ll probably want the chance to win at least twice as much on heads ($20) before you’ll accept the bet.
We have a tendency to rely heavily on the first piece of information we hear when making decisions. One study asked two groups of participants about Gandhi’s age when he died, and found the answers were swayed depending on the “anchor” number in the question. If asked “Did he die before or after the age of 9?”, participants guessed an average of 50; asked “Did he die before or after the age of 140?”, the average was 67. Anchoring can provide helpful reference points during decision making, but it can subconsciously influence us to make poor decisions.