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Post No.: 0078persuasion


Furrywisepuppy says:


You’d think that everyone considers all of the information presented to them before making rational decisions based on this information, but people tend to actually rely on a few mental shortcuts…


Reciprocity – people are more likely to give you something if you give them something too. So to enhance persuasion, be the first to give, and it’s even better if you can make it personalised and unexpected too.


Authority – people tend to more readily trust those whom (they perceive) are in positions of authority. So to enhance persuasion, talk, move and dress with an authoritative tone, display your qualifications overtly, and get someone to introduce you and your credentials before people get passed onto you in order to make you seem important (e.g. a personal assistant).


Consistency – people like consistency, and people also relax more or worry less after they’ve had a few satisfactory trial runs of something or with someone. So to enhance persuasion, get people to commit to one or two small, feasible, voluntary, active and/or public commitments first (and try to get these in writing – even better is to get them to write it down themselves) before asking for a, or the, larger request that you really want (the ‘foot-in-the-door technique’). This small request doesn’t even need to relate to the larger request down the line.


Liking – people tend to like people who are similar to them, who pay them compliments and will cooperate with them. So to enhance persuasion, get to know the other party first and find things in common before getting down to business.


Consensus – people tend to follow others due to group conformity. So to enhance persuasion, highlight clearly if some desired action is popular and normative, particularly if these actions have been done or are being done by others who are similar to whom you’re trying to persuade (e.g. they’re from the same peer group). (It may therefore have the opposite effect to what you desire if you, say, highlight that a park is being ruined because hundreds of people dump rubbish there – better to show that millions of people like them pick up rubbish and recycle.)


Scarcity – people tend to value rare, time-pressured or hard-to-get things more highly (‘scarcity value’). It’s related to the fear of missing out (FOMO), especially relative to one’s peers/competitors. More scarce, difficult-to-obtain or restricted items are inferred to have greater value and hence desirability; and likewise, more expensive items are inferred to be of a higher quality and more rare. So to enhance persuasion, highlight to people what’s unique about your proposition, as well as beneficial, and what they’ll stand to lose if they don’t choose you or buy from you.


Just to extend on scarcity value – a cake will look more attractive if there are only 3 of them compared to 12 of them, especially if you notice that the stock level is reducing at a fast rate. If you invite 3 house buyers at the same time then you’ll likely sell your house faster. If a group of people are all indifferent in preferring either milk or dark chocolate, and in a box there are 16 milk chocolates and 4 dark chocolates – most of them will first go for a dark chocolate before they’re all gone.


Something can be valued or devalued, not based on its inherent deliciousness but whether it’s considered rare and exclusive – when it was more plentiful and wasn’t over-harvested, sturgeon caviar didn’t use to be considered the posh delicacy it currently is. Value is relative and is affected by how rare something is more than how useful it is – in a place where there’s plenty of silver, silver is worth little; or in a place where there’s plenty of air, air is worth little despite its incredible usefulness to us. Rarity, especially along with novelty, increases desire, all else being equal – if people go to a pet shop and spot a puppy or kitten with a different coat pattern to the rest of the bunch, they’ll more likely pick that one unless they knew what specific coat pattern they wanted before they came in. Woof!


Promoting urgency is thus a key persuasion tactic used by legitimate salespeople as well as by scam artists (e.g. ‘do/buy this now otherwise miss out!’) The rush is designed to not give our critical-thinking ‘system two’ the time to scrutinise what’s going on and so we’ll more likely act upon the impulses of our ‘system one’. E-commerce websites also frequently stoke the fear of missing out (and sometimes misleadingly so by not comparing like-for-like) by displaying phrases like ‘x number of this item sold in the past hour’ along with the stock level, or ‘x number of people are currently looking at this’.


…As you may be able to realise, these mental shortcuts can be easily exploited – such as by presenting a fake scarcity ‘limited time offer’ that isn’t really that limited because it’ll be repeated soon enough, or by merely wearing a high-visibility jacket and carrying a clipboard to deceptively augment the perception of authority when someone is really a con artist! Thus knowing these sorts of persuasion tricks can help protect you from being taken advantage of, as long as you’re alert and paying attention to what’s going on that is!


Woof. Furrywisepuppy is looking after your safety and interests!


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