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Forced Choice


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Forced Choice

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



When offering a set of options, make it easy for them to choose the one you want them to choose and hard for them to choose the ones you do not want them to choose.

Methods you can use for this include:

  • Offer the thing you want them to take either first or last.
  • Make the thing you want them to take memorable (and other things not memorable).
  • Make the thing you want them to choose more desirable.
  • Make the choice you want them to make easier.
  • Create contrast to highlight and polarize the desirable and undesirable.
  • Use words and part-words that sound something like what you want them to choose.
  • Offer things that may normally be acceptable but which you know are unacceptable to the the person (leaving the obvious choice...).


Do you want this one, the other one or that one. (using emphasis and primacy).

You can have a brown one, a blue one, a bright yellow shiny one, a grey one or a purple one (emphasis memorable).

There's suet pudding, chocolate ice-cream or heavy fudge cake. (desirability)

This house is far away, that house is expensive and the other house is a real bargain and it's nearby. (contrast and desirability)

We could get a rat, a snake or a dog. Which would you prefer?

I like that hat. Now shall we get a dog or a cat. (repeating 'at' emphasizes 'cat')


One of the tricks that magicians use in doing card tricks is known as 'forcing', where they get the target person to pick the card they want them to pick, while the target person thinks that they have made the selection without external influence.

Choosing the first or last thing offered utilizes the primacy effect or recency effect. Contrast makes things stand out. Making things more noticeable may also use emphasis of some kind. This also helps make them easier to remember.

You can also push the option toward the person in some way or weakly try to take it away and let them jealously grab it back.

See also

Reducing Choice, Biased Choice, Alternative Close, Memory, Primacy effect, Recency effect, Emphasis, Contrast principle


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