TPR #3: Boost persuasion with the "question-behavior effect"

The Persuasion Report


TPR #3: Boost persuasion with the "question-behavior effect"
By Mark Tosczak • Issue #3 • View online
Welcome to Issue No. 3 of The Persuasion Report. If you like what you’re reading, please pass this along to friends and colleagues — the more readers this newsletter gets, the more sustainable it will be. Thanks!
This week:
  1. Become more persuasive with the “question-behavior effect”
  2. Personalize nudges to make them more effective across large groups
  3. The effectiveness of “official-looking” ads vs. “culturally relevant” ads

1. Become more persuasive with the "question-behavior effect"
Looking to persuade an individual or audience that you know is defensive? Turns out the best approach is not always what you might have been taught in school — simply laying out the arguments and evidence in favor of your position.
Instead, engaging those individuals by inviting their opinions can be more powerful:
… a 2006 study published in Social Influence shows the importance of the “question-behavior effect” as a social influence technique: Asking questions, instead of providing answers, can overcome people’s defensiveness – and make them more likely to be open to agreement.
This isn’t the best approach with everyone, however. People who like to make quick decisions and move on may be more amenable to an approach where you simply present your evidence.
2. Personalize nudges to make them more effective across large groups
Nudges are small actions that encourage people to act in ways that benefit them, such as saving money for retirement. But research shows that even when nudges improve outcomes for a group on average, some subgroups can actually be harmed and end up worse off.
With data about your audience, here are two ways nudges can be personalized to improve subgroup outcomes as well as overall outcomes.
  • Personalize the choice. This is what you’re nudging people toward, and the best choice can be different for different subgroups.
  • Personalize how you nudge people. Some people may be more susceptible to a nudge that harnesses social norms, for example, while for others making the desired behavior the default may be more effective.
3. The effectiveness of "official-looking" ads vs. "culturally relevant" ads
An ex-Facebook ads specialist is using an experimental approach to mobilize first-time voters of color. Among the interesting findings is that the effectiveness of the creative in an ad depends on the age of the prospective voters.
Her teams ran tests of “official-looking” ads against what she calls “culturally relevant” ads that looked like organic content anyone might run into on social media, with a careful eye to be sure the people featured in the more modern ads looked and spoke like the communities being targeted. They found that the official-looking ads indeed resonated more with older voters, but younger people of color were much more likely to register to vote when targeted with the culturally relevant ads.
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Mark Tosczak

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