Thursday, June 18, 2009

50 ways to mess with people's minds

Here's the list, which distills this book.


- You can get someone to go along with you by offering any rationale, even a meaningless one. In an experiment, researchers approached customers waiting in line to use a copier at Kinko's. If the researcher just asked the customer, "Can I go ahead of you?," the customer would let him do it only about a quarter of the time. If the researcher instead asked, "Can I go ahead of you, because I need to make some copies?," the customer would almost always let him do it -- even though that rationale made no sense, as everyone was in line to make copies. The post repeats the book's conclusion that the word "because" has a magic power, but the experiment doesn't seem to prove that; maybe any rationale added to a request has the same effect.

- A hotel sign that encourages people to reuse towels will be more successful if it says that guests who've stayed in that specific room reuse their hotel towels, than if it just says guests who've stayed in the same hotel reuse the towels, even though this makes no rational difference. There are many ways you could interpret this finding, but the post says the lesson is: "Introduce herd effect in highly personalized form."

- A waiter who parrots customers' orders will make 70% more in tips than one who doesn't. This has widespread application -- probably to almost any setting where human beings are verbally interacting. By paraphrasing someone's own statements back to them, you can signal that you're understanding them and taking them seriously.

- "People like the sound of their name, and that defines their vocation. There are three times as many dentists named Dennis as any other names." I guess Dwight Schrute was right after all (see the end of this post).

- "A faster-working brain under the influence of caffeine seems to appreciate good arguments."


Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I like the sound of my name, but I haven't gotten rich yet.