7 Universal Principles of Influence
Kevin Hogan, Psy.D.
Excerpted from The Science of Influence.
Copyright 2003 & 2008 – Kevin Hogan
I want you to participate in a decision making game that comes from Kahneman & Tversky (1984). Simply read this scenario and write down the answers before going through the evaluation.
Imagine that we are preparing for the outbreak of a dangerous disease, which is expected to kill 600 people. Two alternative programs to combat the disease have been proposed. Assume that the scientific estimates of the consequences of the programs are as follows:
What do you advise? Program A or Program B? Once you record your answer, read on.
- If Program A is adopted, 200 people will be saved.
- If Program B is adopted, there is a 1/3 probability that all 600 people will be saved and a 2/3 probability that no people will be saved.
There are two other options now.
Write down your choice of program C or D then read on...
- If Program C is adopted, 400 people will die.
- If Program D is adopted, there is a 1/3 probability that nobody will die and a 2/3 probability that all 600 people will die.
Kahneman and Tverskey found that 72% of their subjects chose the "sure thing" program A over the "risky gamble," Program B. However they obtained almost the OPPOSITE results when the question was framed the opposite way. 78% of the same people (doctors) then chose option D which is identical to option B. (C is identical to A)
In other words if someone chose A they logically must also choose C. If someone chose B they logically must also choose D because they are the same exact responses. However, the framing or perspective that is given seems to shift people's thinking significantly.
PERSUASION KEY : The majority of people will do far more to avoid losing something they already have than they will to get something they don't have.
KEY: Fear of loss is a much greater motivator to most than the possibility of gain.
Need more evidence? (Say "yes", as that is the logical response!)
Fear of Loss...
The same Princeton researchers that did the above research project looked at another situation. They told one group of students to imagine they have arrived at the theater only to discover they have lost their ticket. Would you pay another $10 to buy another ticket? A second group were asked to imagine they are going to the theater but they haven't bought a ticket yet. When they arrive at the theater, they realize they have lost a $10 bill. Would they still buy a ticket? 88% of those who lost the $10 in cash said they would buy the ticket BUT only 46% of those who LOST the ticket (which they paid $10 for) would still buy a ticket!
There is nothing logical or rational about the way people buy or make their decision to buy from you. Logic would tell you that people want the best product. They don't. Logic would tell you that people want the most choices possible and that they make decisions logically...Nothing could be further from the truth.
I have a confession to make. I'm not completely logical either. [SHOCK!] I haven't worn a seat belt (except in Seattle, Warsaw and Boston) for 20 years. My step dad was nearly killed in a car accident. He was struck by a farm vehicle and didn't have his selt belt on. Had he been wearing it, he would have been crushed to death in the car. Because he didn't have it on, he was thrown through the window...140 feet...and barely lived...but lived. That emotional imprint has kept the seat belt off...and yet, my kids wear a seat belt or we don't put the car in drive. How's that for logic?
Now, let's talk about how all of this should change the way you sell, buy and influence others to your way of thinking.
Freedom of Choice...or Barrier to Selling?
Even more interesting is research that was just released from Stanford. Researchers went to a grocery store and set up tasting booths in the store. On one table they had 24 jams that the people could taste. On another there were six different kinds of jams. As you would expect 60% of all people who stopped at the table with 24 jams tasted a jam. Only 40% of those stopping at the table with six jams tasted there.
What's shocking? Listen carefully: 30% of all people who stopped at the table with SIX jams purchased one of the jams. Only 3% of people who stopped at the table with 24 jams purchased any of them! The ramifications are enormous...another of our famous $10,000 KEYS that I like to offer you every few months.
The larger number of options (in jam, religion, spousal choices, jobs) creates what we call cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is what happens when you hold two or more beliefs or ideas and don't know which to choose. It makes us feel overwhelmed. People like to have choices...it gives them freedom. But, if you give people too many choices they will simply freeze and do nothing.
This is clear in a casino...where I have been known to spend a few hours. Bettors will drive themselves crazy trying to figure out which team, horse or color to bet on. When they place their money, they become certain they are on the correct side... Later when their team loses, they can say, "I KNEW it was going to go that way, I SHOULD have listened to myself."
Similarly, women do this when they buy a dress. They see blue, they see black...they stand there helpless. Finally they buy the black and THEN they FEEL better inside...in fact...RELIEVED!
When faced with too many choices (usually two or more) most people can become paralyzed and do nothing at all. People who feel overwhelmed simply drop everything...do nothing and give birth to procrastination.
If you tell someone "you can have any of these 100 choices of paint" there is a good chance they will freak out! People are NOT used to deciding between so many options. They won't be able to decide what to do. If you say, "I can give you one of these four options," then the person finds it much easier to choose.
The truly devastating impact of the internal desire to be directed instead of being given a few options happens in brainwashing and sudden conversion experiences. Here, there is only one correct "way" or "ideology" and all others are wrong. This solves the problem of cognitive dissonance and creates what Hoffer called, The True Believer. How do YOU utilize your new found knowledge about cognitive dissonance?
The first $10,000 key:
Every 4 year old child will tell you that the most important toy in a room full of toys is the one that the other child is playing with!
- People crave direction. Give them direction that wires into their unconscious drives.
- People want to believe they are in control...and feel better when they perceive they are.
- Help people resolve their cognitive dissonance by narrowing options and alternatives quickly and decisively.
- Realize that your profits will increase with fewer choices for your clients and customers. There are NOT 64 color choices for the new Lexus or Honda. There are 7 choices.
- Remember the Pareto Principle. 80% of almost everything that happens comes from 20% of the participants or options. (80% of the money is made by 20% of the salespeople and so on.) Use the Pareto Principle to design the very FEW options you need for your clients.
- Too many choices means that people will freeze and not know what to do. Always be prepared to direct people to the best choice for them.
- Always think long term. Your clients look to you for guidance and will remember the results.
Adopt each of the principles discussed in this portion of the CD into your business, your family life, and your relationships. Do not skip homework. Do not listen to the next track until you have completed this assignment.
Knowledge is useful. Power is the application of knowledge. Allow yourself to become powerful now!