There's a word for this....
September 28, 2008 7:53 PM   Subscribe

What is the word that means setting the direction of the conversation by how you begin? (Benchmark, perhaps?) For instance, Paulson demands $700B without any oversight; the discussion becomes heated about how much oversight, how dare he, what oversight we should insist on, etc etc, rather than the amount of money, who it should be given to, and so on. More description follows, if that helps.

We all do this. Teen demands tatoos & piercings, settles for new cell phone. My personal experience: on a jury whose duty it is to decide the amount of an insurance settlement, the first amount mentioned out loud sets the general level of the settlement. If it's a ridiculously high amount, it still influences what the others see as adequate. (After one case that started at $1,000, I deliberately said $1 million on the next case -- same level of disability in both, huge difference in settlement amounts.)

I know I've seen a word for this somewhere, but can not remember where, so am turning to the hive mind so I can stop thinking about it.
posted by kestralwing to Grab Bag (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've usually seen it refered to as "framing the debate" -- controlling what's talked about by "framing" the issue you want to be central.

You may also be thinking of the Overton window, perhaps?
posted by jacobian at 7:58 PM on September 28, 2008

Are you referring to anchoring? Anchoring usually refers to the cognitive bias we have when someone sets a price or something initially and that's what we use as a point of reference. However, this refers to your second explanation, not your first.

Otherwise, I'd agree with jacobian, this is Framing.
posted by miasma at 8:08 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I came in here to say framing, but anchoring seems more accurate.
posted by lunasol at 8:32 PM on September 28, 2008

Yes, thank you! The word I was trying to remember is "anchoring" (even though my examples were not very clear). I was kicking myself for not noticing immediately that was what the administration, through Paulson, was doing; not being able to remember the right word was just too much. Whew. Now I can kick myself with the proper vocabulary.
posted by kestralwing at 9:45 PM on September 28, 2008

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