Tag Archives: robert-cialdini

The Science of Persuasion

Persuasion is not an art; it’s a science.

That’s according to Yes!—the book by social psychologists Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin that proposes to offer 50 ‘scientifically proven ways to be persuasive’. 

For his review of the book, Alex Moskalyuk lists these 50 ways to be persuasive, as gleamed from dozens of psychology studies.

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 environmentally conscious and reused their towels, towel recycling jumped 33%, even though the message was largely the same.

Behavioural Economics and Financial Policies

The news that Obama had some of the leading behaviourists advising his campaign comes as no surprise to me, however I likely underestimated how much they influenced both the campaign and the voters.

Time takes a look at this “behavioural dream team” and discusses how the Obama administration is using behavioural economics to guide its financial policies.

The existence of this behavioral dream team — which also included best-selling authors Dan Ariely of MIT (Predictably Irrational) and Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago (Nudge) as well as Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman of Princeton — has never been publicly disclosed, even though its members gave Obama white papers on messaging, fundraising and rumor control as well as voter mobilization. All their proposals — among them the famous online fundraising lotteries that gave small donors a chance to win face time with Obama — came with footnotes to peer-reviewed academic research. “It was amazing to have these bullet points telling us what to do and the science behind it,” Moffo tells TIME. “These guys really know what makes people tick.”

President Obama is still relying on behavioral science. But now his Administration is using it to try to transform the country. Because when you know what makes people tick, it’s a lot easier to help them change.

While I like this progressive move, I—like Mind Hacks‘ Vaughan—feel the need to ask, “Where are the sceptical voices?”

Using Neighbourhood Comparisons to Promote Conservation

By comparing customers’ usage to that of others in the neighbourhood, utility companies are starting to reduce their energy consumption. This, from an experiment conducted by Robert Cialdini, author of Influence:

In a 2004 experiment, he and a colleague left different messages on doorknobs in a middle-class neighborhood north of San Diego. One type urged the residents to conserve energy to save the earth for future generations; another emphasized financial savings. But the only kind of message to have any significant effect […] was one that said neighbors had already taken steps to curb their energy use.

You can see how effective this is just by looking at the graphic used to head the Times’ article. This has now got me wondering how this could be used with recycling.

via Mind Hacks