On today’s show we’re focused on the book called PRE-Suasion by Robert Cialdini. Now it’s not persuasion, it’s a made up word pre-suasion.
The main idea behind the book is that we as humans are often easily swayed by momentary framing of attention. That framing seems to have a disproportionate importance in how we make decisions in the moment.
The author spent many years understanding the process of influence, attending training classes on sales technique, shadowing sales professionals on their sales calls and observing what made some sales people disproportionately more successful than their peers.
His research uncovered a massive blind spot that most of us humans possess. What happens In the moment before we are asked to make a decision has a disproportionate impact on the decision.
In a very simple example from the book, researchers looked at the problem of getting consumer survey data. Most consumers are overwhelmingly very reluctant to respond to surveys. In an effort to get better data, or in fact any data at all, you sometimes encounter people in the shopping mall or a supermarket who are holding a clipboard asking for a few minutes of your time to answer a quick survey. Some surveys offer a free gift, what is essentially a bribe, albeit an ethical bribe to get you to answer a few questions.
A bigger more enticing gift surprisingly has little impact on the response rate to the survey. Researchers found that about 29% of people approached would agree to participate in the survey. This is a significantly higher response rate than you might get if the request for a survey came by email.
But here’s the surprising fact. When shoppers in the supermarket or the shopping mall were asked a simple question. “Do you consider yourself a helpful person?”, almost all respondents said “Yes”. When they were asked a second question to help with a few minutes to respond to a survey, the percentage who agreed to respond to the survey jumped to 77%. That’s a remarkable outcome. What is it about the question “Do you consider yourself to be a helpful person?” That compelled the majority of people to respond to the survey compared with those who were asked to participate in the survey directly?
When people who were asked to participate in a taste test of a new product, the affirmative response rate jumped dramatically when shoppers were asked another simple question. Not only that, 2/3 of respondents declined to give their email address. But when asked a simple question. “Are you an adventurous person?” 97 percent said they were adventurous! That’s clearly a ridiculous response, 97% of the population are not adventurous. But after answering yes to are you adventurous, not only did the number of people who participated in the product taste test jump, the number of people willing to give their email address jumped from 33% to 75.7%. Think about it, some stranger walks up to you in a mall and asks for your email address. Are you going to give out your email address?
The data says that 75.7% of the time you will igive your email address f you are asked if you are adventurous as a framing question. You probably have no idea that you were even open to being influenced in that way. For the ethical business, the ethics versus effectiveness question must be asked. But for the unscrupulous business, you are open to being manipulated, unless you have a high degree of awareness.
If you haven’t read Pre-suasion, you I would recommend that you read it and wake up to how you are being influenced in ways that you may not be aware of.