Questioning (Not Telling) Ourselves is the Best Call-to-Action

Think­ing about wheth­er we will do a task or not (“Will I…?”) rather than focus­ing on actu­ally per­form­ing the task (“I will….”) has been shown to increase both the prob­ab­il­ity of us even­tu­ally under­tak­ing the task and how suc­cess­fully we will per­form it.

The idea seems that “inter­rog­at­ive self-talk”, rather than declar­at­ive state­ments, leads to more intern­al motiv­a­tion due to a great­er feel­ing of autonomy.

Voter turnout in an elec­tion increased to 86.7% in people who had been asked to make a pre­dic­tion about wheth­er they would vote, com­pared to 61.5% in those who were not asked the ques­tion.

When a res­taur­ant changed the receptionist’s script when tak­ing a book­ing from ‘Please call if you have to can­cel,’ to ‘Will you call if you have to can­cel?’ the no-show rate dropped from 30% to 10%.

Pro­fess­or Richard Cialdini attrib­utes this effect to our need to act in ways that are con­sist­ent with our pre­vi­ously estab­lished views of ourselves. Ask­ing ourselves ques­tions that draw atten­tion to our motiv­a­tions force us to define who we are and what is import­ant to us. Hav­ing defined these things, we have to act in accord­ance with them or face cog­nit­ive dis­son­ance.

Those two anec­dotes (voter turnout, res­taur­ant can­cel­la­tions) are taken from chapter 16 of Robert Cialdini’s Yes! (pre­vi­ously).

Will you tweet about this study?

via @cojadate