Artful Persuasion: How to Command Attention, Change Minds, and Influence People

By Harry Mills | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
14
Mindless Persuasion

The Seven Persuasion
Triggers of Automatic
Influence

MINDLESS BEHAVIOR

Programmed Thinking

Humans spend much of their lives with their minds locked unthinkingly on automatic pilot. Most of the decisions we make are made mindlessly, with little thought at all. Our minds are programmed with persuasion triggers that activate when we receive an appropriate cue.

To show how minds are preprogrammed to mindlessly say yes or no to persuasive requests, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer tried a simple experiment on students queuing up to use a library photocopier.

When students were asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages, may I use the Xerox?” 60 percent agreed to the request; 40 percent, however, said no and continued with their own copying.

When a reason was added - “Excuse me, I have five pages, may I use the photocopier, I'm in a rush” - 94 percent agreed to the request.

-218-

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