Let’s be upfront. Persuasion is all about manipulating other people’s behavior
Now at first that might sound immoral.
But it doesn’t have to be.
A lot of these research has actually been on stuff, like
how do people donate more or
how to increase environmentally–friendly behavior.
So whether you are asking for a favor or trying to create a better world.
Here are the top four tricks on persuasion.
No. 1: Give before you ask
Now you might think that this rule is a common sense.
Yet, it’s been completely forgotten in today’s society.
With social media people have become shameless in asking favors,
Because it’s also depersonalized
For example you might have seen crowd-funding sites,
or please on your Facebook wall,
asking for money to help out a personal course.
There’s even campaigns where students simply ask the Internet to pay for the college tuitions
As you can guess,
they are not very successful.
You can’t just ask something for nothing.
If you really want something from others,
you have to first offer them something of value.
Only then will they want to help you out.
Even small offers will work, for example
if a waiter gives customers two mints,
tips increase by 14 percent.
Even better if he gives them one mint, starts walking away,
but then turns around and offers another mint,
tips increased by 21 percent.
Now two mints clearly aren’t worth that much money.
Yet the power of reciprocity is so strong that people feel the urge to repay the kindness,
and then some more.
So if you really want something,
remember to always give before you ask.
No. 2 Money won’t always work
After following that rule you might be thinking
OK, I can offer money.
However, this won’t always work, for example,
experienments show that when volunteers were paid for their work,
they actually worked less compared to when they did it for free.
Why? Well, when you pay people to do something,
they’ll think, okay, I’m doing this for the money
However, when you don’t
since there’s no clear reward, they rationalize it as,
I’m doing this because I enjoy the task.
As such they are more motivated to do well.
This is learned as an overjustification effect.
The same thing happens when you ask lawyers,
if they’d help needy retirees for 30 dollars an hour.
they just didn’t want to help.
But, if you ask, could you help for free? The lawyers overwhelmingly said yes.
Here it wasn’t about the money anymore.
It became about giving back to the community.
So if you want people to do meaningful work,
money can’t be the only motivator.
Instead appeal to other values like giving back to society.
No.3 Use conformity
As much as we like to think we’re individuals
People still largely conform to social norms.
So to change their behavior,
convince them that everyone else is doing it.
For example, one hotel tried to increase towel reusage,
they put a sign that said 75% of guests who stay in this room reuse their towels.
Join them in saving the environment.
The simple sign alone increased towel reuse by 44%.
Now this rule seems simple to follow, but
there’s a fatal caveat and so many ad campaigns have fallen into this trap.
See there are actually two types of norms.
Descriptive norms which are about what other people do,
and injunctive norms which are about
what other people think should be done.
You should never let these two norms conflict.
Take the example of ad, like
obesity is an epidemic,
buck the trend and be healthy.
Here you have two conflicting norms.
You’re told that while other people are acting unhealthy
You, yourself should be acting healthy.
When this conflict occurs, the ad not only fails to increase healthy behavior,
it makes people less willing to eat healthily.
Basically, the ad worked against itself.
This is concerning because so many campaigns have this design.
Another example is developed countries waste too much energy.
Therefore, we should conserve,
but research shows that once again,
this message makes people less willing to conserve.
If you really wanted a persuasive message,
the two norms should always match.
Such as most teenagers don’t do cocaine, you should neither.
Therefore, make sure to use the power of conformity correctly.
And No.4 point out the hypocrisy
People hate being hypocrites,
this is something we can exploit. For example,
one experienment had people preach to others about the importance of wearing condoms,
the fact that this message was public is important,
because it meant the participants couldn’t just take back the message,
they were committed to it.
Next, they were reminded of their own past failure to use condoms.
By simply highlighting this hypocrisy, these participants started acting
more consistently and consequently increased condom usage.
The same thing happened with smokers,
when told to creat a public message about how smoking is bad,
their commitment against smoking clashed with their actual smoking habits,
and as expected, after six months,
they had a higher abstainers rate compared to controlled subjects.
So to change behavior, make the person publicly commit to something,
and then point out the hypocritical behavior.
And those are the top four tricks on persuasion.