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Hobsons Choice – Influence and Sales Strategies

Hobsons Choice - Influence and Sales Strategies

Hobsons Choice – Influence and Sales Strategies


A Hobson’s choice is a free choice in which only one thing is actually offered. The term – Hobson’s Choice is often used to describe the psychological illusion that multiple choices are being presented. The most well-known Hobson’s choice is “I’m going to give you a choice – you can either take it or leave it”, whereby “leaving it” is the least desirable of the two options. You’ve also probably heard the phrase heads I win, tails you lose. No matter which of the two you choose I will always win and you will always lose.

Following on from the Hobson’s choice the Hobson’s +1 Choice was created.

The Hobson’s +1 Choice highlights the fact that presenting people a choice between two things makes them increasingly likely to choose the option that you want them to purchase or interact with compared to if you only give them the option to only do that or nothing at all or buy that or nothing at all.

This tweak to Hobson’s Choice presents an extra option and is defined as Hobson’s choice +1. When people are given two options to choose from, a couple of things may happen. The first and most common is that we tend to choose from one of the two active choices. This is instead of “leaving it” or “choose nothing” as the other options presented. The second option is that could happen is that based on the theory of the Paradox of Choice we generally tend to be more satisfied or happy with our decision. This way everyone wins and everyone is satisfied.

The common practice is to employ the Hobsons +1 Choice Effect when creating calls-to-action in your marketing content. Instead of a button that reads “Add-To-Cart” or a “Sign-Up” call to action, we can present users with a second choice or option. 

This could even be a trivial choice that makes little difference to the buying process in their mind but in fact, both of the options will eventually lead to the same outcome. Studies have shown that the alternative choice can be as simple as asking users to print the page, copy their reference number or post it to social media. Despite these alternative choices this still results in users following the correct call to action and taking the desired action.


When faced with the “take it or leave it or buy or not to buy” option, people use all of their mental energy to decide whether they should in fact buy a product or not.

Generally, the more options you are presented with, the greater the feeling of buyer’s remorse after you purchase the product or service.

As a result, the more options a consumer is offered, the longer the decision-making process takes. As a result, this demands more mental energy to make that decision. Ultimately, we prefer the option that seems the easiest and safest. If we were to put this in real terms – it’s important to try to make your workflows easier for your users. If you present them with fewer options you will see that this increases both your conversion rates and sales.

Much the same as other influence and sales strategies I share, the power of these strategies can be increased when used alongside other strategies, in this case, you could also leverage the use of the comparison principle. It’s the compound effect of both of these principles which will increase the potency of this Hobsons Effect even more.


Duncan shares more influence insights and tactical strategies as well as more about Hobson’s Choice on his Youtube Channel on Youtube.com/duncanstevens – to discover more about the Hobsons Choice or to even hire him to speak about influence, sales, leadership or collaboration at your event you can follow the link below. Duncan is a professional keynote speaker and global authority on influence and persuasion. 

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