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An anchor refers to a reference point. For the purposes of the law, anchors are frequently utilized by lawyers in litigation to persuade the jury through a process called anchoring. 

Anchoring, or anchoring bias as it's also known, is a psychological phenomenon where people’s estimation of value is influenced by numerical examples that may be entirely arbitrary or have little to no correlation with the actual value. In the courtroom, this phenomenon is particularly important when damages are assessed. 

For example, due to anchoring, juries tend to conclude the actual damages suffered by a plaintiff are larger when the plaintiff’s lawyer asks for larger sums of money. Anchoring with per diem damages, or damages incurred per day, can be especially effective because any potential bias effects in the jury’s damages determination will compound as the number of days the plaintiff is compensated for increases. 

[Last updated in June of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]