Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive
Noah Goldstein’s, Steve Martin’s (no, not that Steve Martin’s) and Robert Cialdini’s Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive is a pop psych book, where a bunch of research in psychology is distilled into one readable volume. 50 scientifically proven ways constitute 50 chapters of the book, longest of which take 7 pages. The authorstake the position that persuasion is a science, not art, hence with the right approach anybody can become the master in the skill of persuasion. So, what are the 50 ways? 1. Inconvenience the audience by creating an impression of product scarcity. It’s the famous change from “Call now, the operators are standing by” to “If the line is busy, call again”, that greatly improved the call volume bycreating the impression that everybody else is trying to buy the same product. 2. Introduce herd effect in highly personalized form. The hotel sign in the bathroom informed the guests that many prior guests chose to be environmentally friendly by recycling their towels. However, when the message mentioned that majority of the guests who stayed in this specific room chose to be more environmentallyconscious and reused their towels, towel recycling jumped 33%, even though the message was largely the same. 3. Ads quoting negative behavior en masse reinforces negative behavior. Petrified Forest National Park A/B tested two versions of a sign imploring people not to steal pieces of petrified forest from the park. One mentioned large amounts of petrified forest taken away on an annual basis, theother one simply asked the visitors not to remove petrified wood. The first one actually tripled the theft ratio as it showed stealing petrified wood as something commonplace. Same effect was observed after airing an ad that implored women to vote, but mentioned that 22 million single women did not vote last year. That kind of information actually portrays not voting as more socially acceptable. 4.Avoiding magnetic middle. A California survey measured energy usage of a neighborhood on a week-by-week basis. When the average electricity consumption for the neighborhood was calculated, researchers sent thank-you cards to those using the energy conservatively, and a nice reminder to perhaps conserve to those who used electricity liberally. Net effect? While the liberals tried to cut down onunnecessary energy usage, the conservatives, finding out they’re way below average, suddenly became way more liberal with their energy usage, which actually increased the amount of energy used by the neighborhood. Proposed solution that worked? Sending a smiley face card to conservatives with a request to keep doing what they were doing, instead of pointing out they were at the right end of the bellcurve. 5. Too many options necessitate selection, and hence frustration, when brain decides it’s unnecessary work. The example here is given by a company that
manages retirement funds for other companies, and hence has access to retirement information of 800,000 employees. When employees were offered a choice of 2 funds, roughly 75% signed up for a retirement program. When the number of fundswas increased to 59%, even though qualitatively this was a better deal for employees, only 60% decided to sign up. When Head & Shoulders brand killed off 11 flavors of the shampoo, leaving only 15 on the market, the sales rose 10%. 6. Giving away the product makes it less desirable. Researchers gave one group of people a picture of a pearl bracelet and asked to evaluate its desirability. Anothergroup of people was given the same task, but prior to that was shown an ad, where the same bracelet was given away for free, if you bought a bottle of expensive liqueur. The second group considered the bracelet much less desirable, since mentally a lot of potential buyers (35% of them to be exact) shuffled the bracelet onto “trinkets they give away for free” shelf in their brain. 7. A more...
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