60 Negotiating with Precise Offers

Based on Research by Malia F. Mason, Ph.D..  Psychology Science Minute written by Kyle Piecora, M.S..

Whether you are trying to purchase a new car, discussing salary with a new employer, or haggling at garage sales, navigating your way through these tough economic times can be difficult.  Is there a trick to negotiating better bargains?

Psychologist Malia Mason and researchers at Columbia University sought to shed light on the practice of negotiating.  When trying to make a deal, many people start off by offering what is a rounded off number.  The researchers put subjects into hypothetical bargaining situations that had them making counteroffers on certain goods and services after receiving an initial offer of a rounded dollar price (like $20), or more precise prices, such as a specific over offer price (like $20.15), or a specific under offer price (like $19.85).  Results showed that when participants received precise, rather than rounded number offers, their counteroffers were significantly closer to the asking price.  This was found to be true regardless of the goods or services, or whether or not the participants were pretending to be sellers or buyers!

When you make a more precise offer, others perceive you as more reasoned and well-informed, facilitating your chance of making a better deal.  If you find yourself negotiating with someone, be precise and confident!  It will give you the edge in making a great deal!


Mason, M. F., Lee, A.J., Wiley, E.A., Ames, D.R. (2013). Precise offers are potent anchors: Conciliatory counteroffers and attributions of knowledge in negotiations.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 4, 759–763

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