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The Decoy Effect

What is it?

The decoy effect, also called the “A minus A strategy” and “asymmetrical dominance effect”, works by placing the offer you want people to choose, next to one or two less appealing options.

The decoy effect is used by many of the highest performing companies and works very well because, like the +1 effect, it gives the illusion of choice while simultaneously guiding prospective buyers toward one option.

Decoys de-stress the decision making process and calm our anxiety of having differentiated options to choose from.

The ‘paradox of choice’ is another principle of psychology, and describes how people have a harder time making decisions and become overwhelmed when presented with too many options.

This happens because of preference uncertainty. In any given choice, we decide based on personal factors. But the less certain we are about those factors, the more difficult it becomes for us to make a choice.

As a result, people typically focus on just a few factors, such as price and quantity, when choosing among products. The decoy affect leverages this by manipulating those factors.


Here is an example of the decoy effect in action:

Take action

  1. Look at your current offers, choose one that is a fan-favorite.
  2. Make a slightly less appealing version of this offer.
  3. If in need of inspiration look at the pricing pages over here.

Read more on the topic:

  1. Chapter 1 of the book Predictably Irrational
  2. http://humanhow.com/the-decoy-effect-complete-guide/
  3. https://www.crowdspring.com/marketing-psychology/decoy-effect/
  4. https://thedecisionlab.com/biases/decoy-effect/

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