• Final Mile

High Living – Lower Parel or Upper Worli?


If you are from Mumbai or pride that you know Mumbai well enough, you might be wondering where Upper Worli is. If you did, you are like most other people I know, many of them having lived in this city all their life! It was only a few months back that Mumbaikars heard of this place for the first time – when a series of high end luxury residences were launched in this hitherto unheard-of locality. Visits to websites of these builders, Google Maps, and eureka happens – Upper Worli is right here, right under our noses, right where our office is! The place that we fondly called Lower Parel has overnight lost its identity and become Upper Worli. What explains the transformation of innocent Lower Parel to sophisticated Upper Worli?

The realtors who are building these luxury homes are taking the help of a cognitive bias known as Anchoring and certain hard wired mental models to get potential owners to justify their expensive buy.

Lower Parel makes our mind anchored on Parel, known to be a middle class locality in Mumbai where mill workers used to reside. Our mental model around the word “lower” is inferior (a quick check on my MacBook thesaurus gives inferior, lesser, junior, minor, secondary, lower level, subsidiary, subservient as synonyms). It should not matter at all to our decision making, but as Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide puts it “Our brains have a spectacular inability to ignore irrelevant information”. So Lower Parel, in our minds is not just associated with Parel, but is inferior to Parel.

Now think about Upper Worli – anchored on Worli, already a posh central mumbai neighbourhood, “upper” makes the place even more desirable, naturally. We quickly realize that both Lower Parel and Upper Worli are the same, but our non conscious brain has already prepared ourselves to pay more for the same real estate with a spruced up address. With astronomical rates (as high as Rs. 40,000 or $900 a square feet), it is only natural that Lower Parel transforms itself to Upper Worli! Scary?

Picture credit: Groundtruths

#anchoring #cognitivebias #heuristics

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