- Tragedy versus statistics
October 17, 2011
Statistics deter us from giving by emphasizing the number of people we can’t help, rather than the number we can.
- Change is hard – make not changing harder
October 6, 2011
You can change behaviour by making unwanted actions more difficult to do.
- I’d do it if you’d just tell me how!
October 3, 2011
People are more likely to change if they’re given clear, specific actions to take.
- Easy does it (and it often does)
September 29, 2011
People will be more likely to behave as you wish if you make it easier for them to do so.
- Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol either
September 26, 2011
Prohibition signs (like “No littering”) are effective when most people are already following the rule, but tend to backfire in an environment in which many people are ignoring it.
- I’m expert or I’m sure, but not both
September 22, 2011
A tentative opinion expressed by an expert and a confident opinion expressed by a non-expert are both more likely to persuade listeners than the other way around.
- Because we’ve always been quick to change!
September 19, 2011
Describing a policy as part of the status quo makes it more attractive than describing it as a proposed change.
- All talk, some action
September 16, 2011
Talking about new behaviours in peer groups can spur change more effectively than providing information one-on-one.
- Why we don’t catch 39 winks
September 12, 2011
Some numbers are more “likeable” than others, and this affects how we view brands and advertisements.
- Don't tell ME who to like
September 8, 2011
Anti-prejudice messages can backfire if they focus on what their targets ought to do, rather than on the benefits of acting differently.
- Will you read this post?
September 5, 2011
Asking people questions about their actions or opinions can change their future behaviours.
- Do ask, do tell
September 1, 2011
Individuals performed better on tasks when working with an openly gay partner than when working with one whose sexual orientation was unknown.
- Nice guys help everyone finish first
August 29, 2011
Experiencing or watching rude behaviour reduces our creativity, helpfulness and problem-solving abilities.
- Considering the environment
August 25, 2011
Physical positions, smells and sensations can alter our behaviours and beliefs.
- Pulling a fast one
August 22, 2011
Speaking quickly is generally more persuasive than speaking slowly – but not if your audience already agrees with you.
- Some (most) like it hot
August 15, 2011
Not only does good weather tend to make us happier, it also affects the way we think and make decisions.
- Please don’t hang up – this is not a recording
August 11, 2011
Specific words and actions on the part of a caller will make people more likely to agree to participate in a telephone survey.
- Be a noun and watch your verbing
August 8, 2011
Choices in nouns or verbs can influence the behaviour of the people you’re addressing.
- When you reach farther, it goes further
August 4, 2011
Learning that others have helped those very different or distant from themselves makes us more charitable.
- Let's go into space
August 1, 2011
Crowding and intrusions into personal space can affect our decision-making.
- It's all in your tone of choice
July 28, 2011
When we actively choose between two options (rather than opting in or out of a single choice), we consider the decision more carefully and are more likely to make behavioural changes.
- Change the frame, change the picture
July 25, 2011
Reframing a situation can change the way people perceive it.
- Try to see it my way
July 21, 2011
When we view the world through another person's perspective for a short while, we often become less prejudiced toward the group that person represents.
- Running for office, jogging for votes
July 18, 2011
People who have been encouraged to think about activity are more likely to participate in politics.
- How to extinguish those burning pants
July 14, 2011
There are ways to encourage people to lie and cheat less frequently.
- My group makes better decisions than your group
July 11, 2011
People often make poor decisions in groups, but there are ways to counter this tendency.
- White rabbits can't dance and other stereotypes (part 2)
July 7, 2011
More ways to counter stereotype threat.
- Math, maple syrup and morals – pick your stereotype (part 1)
July 4, 2011
Stereotype threat (performing poorly due to stereotyped expectations) can be countered by retraining attitudes and affirming personal values.
- Strut your altruistic stuff
June 30, 2011
Getting status or recognition for prosocial behaviour can encourage people to do more of it.
- Positive pressure
June 27, 2011
Reminders tend to urge us to cooperate rather than causing resentment.
- It's no good, we're sunk (no, we're not)
June 23, 2011
Counter the effects of "sunk costs" on decision making by focussing on gains instead of losses.
- In subliminals we trust
June 20, 2011
Subliminal images can affect our opinions and behaviours.
- Even invisible prophecies fulfil themselves
June 16, 2011
Our expectations of other people alter their behaviours even when they're unaware of those expectations.
- Too much… too little… just right!
June 13, 2011
Both too many and too few options can make a choice less appealing, as can other factors such as how the options are presented.
- I want to get you committed
June 9, 2011
Once we have committed ourselves to doing something or stated that we are likely to do it, our wish to remain consistent makes us more likely to go through with it.
- If it's mine, it's better
June 6, 2011
The endowment effect – our tendency to overvalue things once they are ours – can sometimes be countered by offering an option halfway between the current situation and the hoped-for one.
- How to generate prejudice in one easy step
June 2, 2011
Individuals divided into two groups for almost any reason will tend to discriminate in favour of their own group.
- Reduce crime - plant a tree
May 30, 2011
The presence of trees, grass and plants can improve physical and mental health and reduce aggression, violence, greed and crime.
- Can't top the music
May 26, 2011
Listening to prosocial music (or even hearing it in the background) can inspire empathy, generosity and helpfulness.
- This one's a sleeper
May 23, 2011
When your audience is likely to discount your message because of its source, you may be able to increase its impact through the "sleeper effect".
- Choose your examples – and t-shirts – wisely
May 19, 2011
Exposure to subtle or incidental messages can have surprisingly large effects on attitudes.
- Eat, drink and be wary
May 16, 2011
Food and caffeine intake affect decision-making and susceptibility to persuasion.
- Your price or mine?
May 12, 2011
Offering buyers the opportunity to pay what they wish for a product with the proviso that half the proceeds will go to a charity increases profits for both the seller and the charity.
- Where the body goes, the mind follows
May 9, 2011
Our own facial expressions and physical movements can affect our opinions of the things and people around us.
- Make an example of yourself
May 5, 2011
Setting an example of the behaviour you want to encourage does lead other people to copy it.
- Let me hear your body talk
May 2, 2011
Body language can make a message more effective if it matches the personal approach of the listener and/or the persuasive strategy being used.
- Tell me about yourself – carefully
April 28, 2011
We like people more if they disclose personal information later rather than sooner – except when the information is damaging to the one admitting it. Then we prefer to have it volunteered sooner.
- Seeing red, feeling blue
April 25, 2011
Colours can influence our abilities to do certain tasks and increase the effectiveness of certain types of messages.
- Shall I compare thee to a winter's day?
April 21, 2011
Comparing a group to another, less socially responsible, group increases their sense of social responsibility.
- First impressions last
April 18, 2011
First impressions have a large influence on later opinions, especially if they involve a breach of trust.
- All very touching
April 14, 2011
A light touch (or two) on someone's arm makes him or her more likely to be cooperative, generous and helpful.
- I don't have anything against insert-group-here but...
April 11, 2011
To reduce prejudice, highlight differences among minority group members, incorporate ideals and self-affirmation, and encourage contact between minority groups and those prejudiced against them.
- Sex, violence, focus groups and pop-ups
April 7, 2011
Sex and violence don't actually sell, and focus groups aren't effective ways to learn what consumers like. And pop-ups don't work at all.
- What's a metaphor for?
April 4, 2011
The choice of metaphor to describe a situation or problem affects how people react to the situation or attempt to solve the problem.
- Guilt trips don't go very far
March 31, 2011
Using guilt to persuade people often doesn't work, and can backfire.
- Sometimes fundraising products don't
March 28, 2011
The availability of fundraising products can reduce the amount of money donated to charity – resulting in an overall loss for the charity.
- If the words aren't new, we'll think they're true
March 24, 2011
Words, phrases and statements that rhyme or contain repetitive syllables are seen as more appealing and more likely to be true.
- Repeat yourself (repeat yourself)
March 21, 2011
We perceive an opinion to be more likely to represent the majority if we hear it more than once – even if only one person is saying it.
- Limited supply - today only!
March 17, 2011
The perception that an opportunity is limited makes that opportunity more attractive.
- Seeing is, unfortunately, believing
March 14, 2011
The availability error: we are most likely to believe what most easily comes to mind.
- Just lie, low
March 10, 2011
The "low-ball" effect: It's more effective to get someone to agree to something before disclosing its disadvantages than to disclose the disadvantages up front.
- The blame's afoot
March 7, 2011
Blaming others for our mistakes encourages the people around us to do the same, although we can block this effect.
- If it's this hard, I must be wrong
March 3, 2011
Asking people to come up with too many examples or reasons will reduce their commitment to the idea they're supposedly supporting.
- Your idea's not from around here, is it
February 28, 2011
People prefer their own ideas to anyone else's, but it's possible to present new ideas in a way that makes them more palatable.
- Compare and contrast
February 24, 2011
The contrast effect: we judge things more or less harshly based on similar things we've just seen or experienced.
- The more things change… the better
February 21, 2011
People are most open to making changes and trying new things when they are already undergoing life changes.
- I can't control myself - and neither can you
February 17, 2011
Self-control is an exhaustible resource: self-supervision and making choices temporarily deplete our ability to do further acts requiring self-control.
- The weight of waiting
February 14, 2011
When we choose to delay making a decision, we are less likely to eventually pick the status quo option.
- In the priming of life
February 10, 2011
Priming: We unconsciously change our behaviours and attitudes after being exposed to certain words, pictures or concepts.
- I helped you – I must like you
February 7, 2011
Asking a person who dislikes you for a favour can improve that person's opinion of you.
- How to use a red herring
February 3, 2011
Waiting for information before making a decision makes that information seem more vital to the decision-making process.
- Always look on the bright side – and the dark side
January 31, 2011
Except in advertisements, messages are more persuasive if they show both sides of the issue then refute the opposing arguments.
- Feint by numbers
January 27, 2011
The anchor effect: When a number is present, people making an estimate will tend to shift their estimate toward that number.
- Let's get personal
January 24, 2011
People are more likely to grant a written request when it is personalized with a handwritten note and their name – especially if written on a Post-It™.
- The downside of dollar signs
January 20, 2011
Activities or images that make us think of money make us behave more independently but also more selfishly.
- Mirror, mirror...
January 17, 2011
When a person "mirrors" our words and body language, we are more likely to feel positive toward (and help) that person.
- The magic word isn't "please"
January 13, 2011
Being thanked makes people more likely to do further kind acts, both for the person who thanked them and for others.
- Location, location, location
January 10, 2011
The position of an item or person in a list or visual presentation affects how we see that item or person.
- The power of positive replying
January 6, 2011
If you ask a question designed to get a positive answer, people will be more likely to respond positively to your next question.
- Startle them into agreeing
January 3, 2011
Phrasing a request in a startling or unusual way increases the likelihood that people will agree to it.
- Helping me help you
December 27, 2010
Because we underestimate the difficulty people have asking for help, we need to offer help more actively to be effective.
- The world is very much with us
December 23, 2010
The warmth, texture and other characteristics of our surroundings affect our behaviours and perceptions of other people.
- I'll help you because you're just like me
December 20, 2010
We are more likely to help or pay attention to a person who is similar to us in some way.
- Wake up and smell the behavioural change
December 16, 2010
Background smells can encourage people to be tidier, more helpful or more giving.
- But wait! There's more!
December 13, 2010
Adding bonuses to an offer in quick stages (the "that's not all" technique) makes people more likely to accept that offer.
- You are not stupid, not immoral, not offensive... and probably not thrilled
December 9, 2010
Using negative phrasing to describe a person implies that you expected (perhaps stereotypically) the opposite from them.
- Sweet reason isn't always sweet enough
December 6, 2010
We tend to look for information that supports our beliefs – and sometimes opposing facts just make us more certain we're right.
- Don't give them something to talk about
December 2, 2010
When we describe a trait in someone else, our audience tends to associate that trait with us.
- I'm good, so I'm allowed to be bad
November 29, 2010
Performing a moral act makes us more likely to behave badly later.
- The return of the favour
November 25, 2010
Doing someone a favour instills a sense of obligation that makes the recipient want to help the person who did the favour.
- Time is money, except when it isn't
November 22, 2010
Making people think about time makes them more generous and more likely to socialize.
- Let us make ourselves perfectly clear
November 18, 2010
Clear fonts and simple language make your audience more likely to read, believe and act on your message.
- I don't want a lot, I just want more than he has
November 15, 2010
People will often accept less if they know they'll have more than their peers.
- Symbolically speaking
November 11, 2010
Viewers really do associate people with the symbols they see them pictured with.
- Winning isn't everything – but losing is
November 8, 2010
Choices expressed as a loss instead of a gain provoke different responses.
- How not to use social authority
November 4, 2010
Don't point out how common a bad behaviour is if you're trying to convince people to do less of it.
- When one head is better than two (and much better than three)
November 1, 2010
The more people in a group, the less effort each one will put in (and how to minimize this tendency).
- I'm original, you're a little odd, he's a complete nutbar
October 28, 2010
We perceive the actions of other people to reflect their characters, not the situations they're in.
- Since I'm already part way there...
October 25, 2010
People are more likely to complete a goal if they start with a sense of already having made some progress.
- Two psychologists walk into a bar
October 21, 2010
Humour and laughter can increase cooperation, altruism and willingness to compromise.
- If you can't start small, start big
October 18, 2010
If you ask for a large favour, which is then rejected, people will be more likely to grant the smaller favour you ask next.
- Let's all be nonconformists together
October 14, 2010
How to encourage conformity or nonconformity among group members.
- You paid me – I must have hated it
October 11, 2010
Paying people to do something they would have done anyway reduces their interest in doing it again.
- I did it – I must have enjoyed it
October 7, 2010
When people argue on behalf of an idea they don't support (without an external reason), they start to agree with that idea.
- That hurt – I must have liked it
October 4, 2010
The more people have to do to achieve a goal, the more they will value it once they reach it.
- The downside of 31 flavours
September 30, 2010
When too many options are offered, we are less likely to make a choice and less likely to be satisfied with the choice we make.
- No-fault default
September 27, 2010
Changing the default option on a choice affects which option people will choose.
- Cooperation is viral – pass it on!
September 23, 2010
People respond to examples of generosity and cooperation by behaving more generously and cooperatively themselves.
- Ask for crumbs... and get bread
September 20, 2010
The phrase "even a penny will help" makes people more likely to donate.
- Start small
September 16, 2010
Once someone has responded to a small request (particularly for a good cause), he or she is more likely to respond positively to a larger request later.
- We are what we do
September 13, 2010
Labelling people's behaviours as characteristic of a certain kind of person makes them more likely to see themselves as that kind of person -- and act on that.
- Don't do what I say, be what I say you are
September 9, 2010
Telling people they have positive traits makes them more likely to display those traits.
- Do what the cool kids do (with their towels)
September 6, 2010
We are more likely to do something if we believe that everyone else is doing it.
- So. Why this blog?
September 2, 2010
Why start a blog about using social psychology to make social changes? Here's why.