Low Ball Technique

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Description of Low Ball Technique. Explanation.

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Low Ball Technique

Definition Low Ball Technique. Description.


The Low Ball Technique is a persuasion approach based on changing the characteristics of a proposal in time.


In 1978, J.A. Miller, J.T. Cacioppo, R. Basset and R.B. Cialdini found that is particularly effective to make an initial proposal that hides some characteristics and presents only the quick, cheap and easy nature of the proposal. At a later stage, when characteristics of the proposal are added or changed, the interlocutor is likely to keep agreeing.


The persuasion at the basis of the Low Ball technique plays on the individual need for consistency, and the uncomfortable feeling raised after the change (a customer may feel his new purchase is threatened and might not go through), and the pace of changes.

Later, two improvement suggestions have been shown in order to obtain better results with this technique:

  • In 1981 Burger and Petty stated that both proposals have to come from the same person.
  • In 2000 Pascual and Guegen added that is important to stress at any time that the interlocutor is free to accept or refuse the proposal. In this perspective, typical questions at the initial stage are: “You are free to accept or refuse this proposal”. This implies an early  acceptance that would need an attitude change to modify the agreement.

The nature of the technique is similar to Bait and Switch.


Low Ball Implementation Steps. Process

The process steps to implement the Low Ball technique are:

  1. Formulate a proposal that gives the feeling of cheapness, quickness or easiness to make the interlocutor agree.
  2. Make it clear that she freely complies with the initial proposal.
  3. Change the agreement into a more convenient one for the proponent: the interlocutor may complain although if assumptions are met the passage will be smooth. There is also an innate tendency in people to stick to a decision once they have already taken it. This concept has been validated by the sunk costs notion lately explored by Fox and Hoffman.
  4. Underline that you both agreed on the proposal and consider the changes as insignificant; make the changes looking like a mistake or an oversight and quickly move further to the delivery.

Assumptions of Low Ball Approach. Conditions

The assumptions at the basis of the Low Ball technique are:

  1. The process has to look as natural and innocent as possible. A typical example are airlines companies that, after all process steps to buy a ticket have been done, ask for fuel surcharge.
  2. The differences between the first and second proposal have to be small. The perceived difference between the two proposals may vary according to an individual tolerance. The tolerance can depend on values, culture and other personal characteristics of an individual.

Low Ball Technique Forum
  Quotes on Making Proposals. Quotations
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Low Ball Technique Special Interest Group


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Resources - Low Ball Technique Premium

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Compare with: Forced Compliance  |  Mirroring and Matching  |  Foot in the Door  |  Persuasion Techniques  |  Persuasion Theory  |  Validity Effect  |  Sleeper Effect  |  4 Ps of Persuasion  |  Bait and Switch  |  Framing  |  Balance Theory  |  Cognitive Dissonance

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