Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Low Ball Technique – Definition
  3. Operating Mechanisms
  4. Examples of Utilization


Low Ball Technique is a method that, in my opinion, is unethical—thus, I do not recommend its use (but, of course, it is an individual matter for each person). What makes it unethical, you may ask? In this technique, we formulate two proposals, with the second one being truthful. However, the first one, euphemistically speaking, must always miss the truth. This means deceiving the other person initially by presenting a misleading version of our proposal (usually involving a lowered price). When this person decides to accept our offer, only then do we “recall” the entire truth.

Low Ball Technique – Definition

If I have made a decision to accept a certain proposal, even if it turns out to be less favorable than I initially thought, I will probably still uphold that decision.

Low Ball Technique is often employed by various salespeople, and knowledge of this, as well as other influence techniques, gives us the ability to say “STOP” at the right moment. Before the ball, shot by the opponent, ends up in our goal.

IMPORTANT: For the technique to be effective, both proposals must be formulated by one person.

Operating Mechanisms

  1. The rule of commitment and consistency comes to mind first. Once a person emotionally engages in a matter, dedicating time and energy to it, it becomes challenging to withdraw, even when the chosen option is no longer advantageous.
  2. Polite explanation of the mistake – Maja’s experiment (2002) shows that for the technique to work, a polite explanation of why the initial proposal changed is necessary.

Examples of Utilization

  • Distinguishing between net and gross prices. If a seller consistently provides a lower price, and when paying the bill, it turns out we must still add VAT, we likely fell victim to the low ball technique.
  • Frequently used by car salespeople. Initially enticing the customer with a very favorable price, but later revealing that the “promotional car left this morning” or that the “price was given without air conditioning, ABS, and built-in airbags.”
  • Lastly, an example from everyday life: you’ve probably experienced buying deli meat at a butcher’s shop, and instead of 200 grams, the lady slices a bit more, saying, “can it be 300 grams?”. This is a typical low ball.


  1. Maj, K. (2002) Polite behavior as a conditioning factor for the effectiveness of the low ball social influence technique. Psychological Studies, 40, 93-109.
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