Future Lock-In

Future lock-in is a technique that consists of giving a short-term benefit in order for the target to commit in the long-term. The crux of the technique is that, in the long-term, the short-term advantage is useless, but to the target, in the moment, it does feel like a big element.

The simplest example of future lock-in is, for example:

  • “Sign today, and start paying today“;
    • Versus
  • “Sign today, ands start paying 2 months from now“;
  • The second case will seem a lot more attractive, although in the long-term, it’s completely irrelevant;

The Persuasion Psychology Behind the Technique

This relies on the cognitive bias of time discounting. In other words, people will value a lot more what they get in the present, and discard the long-term consequences of their actions.

Having the benefit at the beginning gives the person a false sense of security. While you are in that initial period, it sure feels like this will last forever. But sooner or later, it will end, and now you are locked in a commitment.

You leverage future lock-in by giving the person an immediate advantage in return for them locking themselves into a long-term deal, where that advantage is irrelevant.




Car sales

This is used in almost every car sale; “Sign today, start paying 2 months from now”


For example, the “stamina” in games. You will be offered a lot of stamina for free in the beginning, but later it will start being charged for.You commit to the game and the story, and in the long-term, you will have to pay for what in the short-term was free


The paramount example of future lock-in. You have a short-term benefit (cash on hand) while ignoring the future consequence (paying back more)

Use Cases For the Four Quadrants

Key Takeaways
(3 Total)

How to Stack This Technique