18 The impressive thing about the lowball tactic is its ability to make a

18 the impressive thing about the lowball tactic is

This preview shows page 85 - 87 out of 278 pages.

18 The impressive thing about the lowball tactic is its ability to make a person feel pleased with a poor choice. Those who have only poor choices to offer us, then, are especially fond of the technique. We can find them throwing lowballs in business, social, and personal situations. For instance, there’s my neighbor Tim, a true lowball aficionado. Recall that he’s the one who, by promising to change his ways, got his girl- friend, Sara, to cancel her impending marriage to another and to take him back. Since her decision for Tim, Sara has become more devoted to him than ever, even though he has not fulfilled his promises. She explains this by saying that she has allowed herself to see all sorts of positive qualities in Tim she had never recognized before. 76 / Influence
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I know full well that Sara is a lowball victim. Just as sure as I had watched buyers fall for the give-it-and-take-it-away-later strategy in the car showroom, I watched her fall for the same trick with Tim. For his part, Tim remains the guy he has always been. But because the new attractions Sara has discovered (or created) in him are quite real for her, she now seems satisfied with the same arrangement that was unaccept- able before her enormous commitment. The decision to choose Tim, poor as it may have been objectively, has grown its own supports and appears to have made Sara genuinely happy. I have never mentioned to Sara what I know about lowballing. The reason for my silence is not that I think her better off in the dark on the issue. As a general guiding principle, more information is always better than less information. It’s just that, if I said a word, I am confident she would hate me for it. Depending on the motives of the person wishing to use them, any of the compliance techniques discussed in this book can be employed for good or for ill. It should not be surprising, then, that the lowball tactic can be used for more socially beneficial purposes than selling new cars or reestablishing relationships with former lovers. One research project done in Iowa, for example, shows how the lowball procedure can influ- ence homeowners to conserve energy. 19 The project, headed by Dr. Michael Pallak, began at the start of the Iowa winter when residents who heated their homes with natural gas were contacted by an inter- viewer. The interviewer gave them some energy-conservation tips and asked them to try to save fuel in the future. Although they all agreed to try, when the researchers examined the utility records of these fam- ilies after a month and again at winter’s end, it was clear that no real savings had occurred. The residents who had promised to make a conservation attempt used just as much natural gas as a random sample of their neighbors who had not been contacted by an interviewer. Just good intentions coupled with information about saving fuel, then, were not enough to change habits.
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