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This is a well-documented negotiation tactic in procedural areas, and it has various forms. It is discussed here in its simplest form. It works when we offer a high-end option, a low-end option, and perhaps a middle option.


The form is simple. You may go into a clothier wanting to spend $750. You tell the salesperson your budget, and they show you suits. They say, “You can have the Zegna suit at $4,500 or a fine Italian suit of lesser brand recognition for $1,000, and there is the generic one for $650, which I do not recommend.” Suddenly, $1,000 looks like a bargain and you walk out with that suit, in debt by $250.


Control your budget by controlling your behavior. Knowing you are psychologically vulnerable when there is a contrast presented may help you gird your loins when faced with retail persuasion.

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