Beginner’s Luck + Anchoring = Massive Frustration

In psychology, there is a phenomenon called “anchoring” in which an initial piece of information acts like an anchor for and affects that context in the future. Essentially, it is the same thing a the concept of a first impression. It is problematic because it sets up what may be unrealistic, or even false, expectations. For example, if the first time you met someone was while they were having a really bad day, you might think of them as being a grouchy person from that point on and avoid them, even if they are actually very nice and you would have liked them otherwise.

Beginner’s luck is the phenomenon in which someone who tries their hand at something for the first time gets lucky and does well. The classic example is of someone playing a game like poker or other game of chance and happening to win a few times.

When these two phenomena get combined, it can lead to extreme frustration.

An example, I have experienced multiple times (which is actually what lead me to notice this effect in the first place), is with video-games. There have been numerous games which I played and did well in at the start, but then ended up having a lot of difficulty with (and it wasn’t due to levels increasing in difficulty). It may have been easy the first time, but I kept doing the same things over and over again without success. Sure, I may have been getting better and better with each try, due to practice, but it wasn’t as easy as it was the first time where I just sailed right through. The only conclusion is that I just happened to get lucky that first time, which then set my mind up to think this game is easy, which in turn caused a lot of grief later when I had trouble and could progress as easily and fast as I was expecting.

What’s more is that the opposite holds true as well, but is usually less noticeable. If one experience beginner’s bad luck the first time with something, then you get the notion that it is hard or unpleasant or some other negative experience, which often causes the person to abandon it altogether, so like with the grouchy person example, they will not even know what it was actually like and miss out on an opportunity. However, it can also lead to frustration in the same way as with beginner’s luck. For example, if you tried something that was very difficult the first time and you enjoyed the challenge, but subsequent exposure turned out to be too easy and boring, you may get frustrated with it and feel betrayed.

As the old saying goes, first impressions are important. The reason is due to anchoring.

One thought to “Beginner’s Luck + Anchoring = Massive Frustration”

  1. When I was looking through my folder of ideas for posts, I found no less than four files for this topic (and that was just in the blogs directory; I didn’t even check the screenshots directory). It’s obviously something that I’ve been meaning to get around to writing for a while. It also shows how often I experience this issue since I seem to keep making a note to write about it when it happens to me.

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