The Stanford Persuasion Professor Who Developed A Formula That Made His Students More Than A Billion Dollars

Imagine there was a professor who specializes in persuasion, and who has developed a model which his students have used to start several million dollar companies (and in fact one BILLION dollar company: instagram).

Professor B.J.Fogg who teaches at Stanford gives this talk is a pioneer in the field of persuasive technology. He studied how computers to influence people’s behavior in the 90′s.

What’s interesting is that now – in the year 2012 – we do have the technology to influence people’s behavior, what’s often missing is the psychology.

“What’s missing is a very simple way to really understand what’s changing behavior.”

And he wants you to do a little thought experiment.

So do this now:

Imagine your mobile phone rings.

And you don’t answer it, because…

and now just jot down a couple of reasons why you didn’t answer the phone.

Do this now. What are the reasons why you didn’t answer the phone. You’ve had that experience in your life before – your phone rang and you didn’t answer. Come up with a couple of possible reasons why you didn’t answer the phone.

If you’ve done this, it will help you to understand a “formula” for behavior change – and it’s surprisingly simple.

One of the things that has to happen for us to do anything is: there needs to be a trigger.

A trigger is something that causes us to take some action, something that says: do this now.

For example, if you’re sitting at a red light and it turns green – you start driving. The green light was your trigger. If somebody sticks his hand out to you, you shake that person’s hand – that’s another example of a trigger. And of course, when your phone is ringing, that’s another example of a trigger.

If you look at the list of reasons why you didn’t answer the phone, was it anything about: you were in a meeting, you were in a shower, you were busy, or something like that.

And then there are other reasons: I was in a bad mood, I didn’t want to talk with the person who was calling, etc.

The first kinds of reasons were about ability. You weren’t able to answer the phone because you were occupied with something else.

The second groups of reason is about motivation.

For a behavior to happen, three things have to come together at once:

trigger + ability + motivation = behavior

And these three things have to happen at the exact same moment. But if any of these is missing at that moment, the behavior won’t happen.

At the same time, if you want to stop a behavior, then you just remove one of those factors: you can take away the motivation, the ability or the trigger, and people will stop doing it.

He talks about how to use these behavior design principles in technology companies, and how Facebook is a master of applying these methods.

Many of his students have used these principles to build their own companies, and many of them have made millions. Instagram for example (which was built by one of Professor Fogg’s students), was sold for $1 billion (BILLION, with a b!) this year.

This seems kind of simplistic or detached from real life, but as you can see, properly applied this is a very powerful formula that you can use in your own life and business.

Did you enjoy the talk? What are your main takeaways?

For me, it was this: put hot triggers in the path of motivated people. 

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How To Manipulate The Media (Book Recommendation)

If you want to know how one single guy can manipulate the (big) media – and how you could do it too – then this book is the best thing you’ll come across at this point in time.

What does the term “manipulating the media” mean in this context? Well, it means that you create fake news to generate attention, and then use that attention to benefit yourself, your company (or even caused damage to a competitor).

Before reading this book I believed that manipulating the media required to some kind of PR agency with lots of staff and a big budget, or at least a well-connected and experienced spin doctor with a network of trusted advisors.

But this book shows you that anyone – including you or me – can manipulate the media.

Whether you want to sell more stuff, get more clients or (and this is really the best application of this) create awareness for a cause, this book will give you solid, workable advice on how to do that.

 

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Do Touch This

Do you want to persuade someone? Touch them.

A gentle touch on the arm can make you a lot more persuasive.

It’s funny because we often think of persuasion as some kind of psychological rocket science.

But a simple, gentle touch on the arm can make you so much more influential.

We now know that waiters get bigger tips when they touch their guests casually.

And library users rate a library and the personnel better when they are touched while registering.

If you want to get a girl’s phone number simply touching her arm will make her more willing to give it to you. Dr Nicolas Guéguen an article called Courtship compliance: The effect of touch on women’s behavior.

Previous research has shown that light tactile contact increases compliance to a wide variety of requests. However, the effect of touch on compliance to a courtship request has never been studied. In this paper, three experiments were conducted in a courtship context. In the first experiment, a young male confederate in a nightclub asked young women to dance with him during the period when slow songs were played. When formulating his request, the confederate touched (or not) the young woman on her forearm for 1 or 2 seconds. In the second experiment, a 20‐year‐old confederate approached a young woman in the street and asked her for her phone number. The request was again accompanied by a light touch (or not) on the young woman’s forearm. In both experiments, it was found that touch increased compliance to the man’s request. A replication of the second experiment accompanied with a survey administered to the female showed that high score of dominance was associated with tactile contact. The link between touch and the dominant position of the male was used to explain these results theoretically.

And if you ask a random stranger to perform a mundane task for you, well, guess what, that casual touch will make it more likely that they’ll comply.

Your Brain on Touch

Scientists wanted to know what happens in the brain when we get casually touched.

So they set up this experiment with a couple of female participants.

Each woman was shown pictures.

Some of the pictures were emotionally neutral (e.g. a table) and some where negative (e.g. an angry face).

Now before a picture was shown to the women, one of three things happened:

  • they got touched on the arm by a female friend
  • they got touched on the arm by a mechanical device
  • they didn’t get touched by anyone (or anything)

And the women were connected to EEGs – so their brain activity was monitored all throughout the experiment. 

And here’s an interesting finding: when the women got touched their brains reacting stronger to emotional pictures.

Now we could spend a lot more time learning about the neuroscience of touch (and if you’re so inclined you can read Squeeze me, but don’t tease me: Human and mechanical touch enhance visual attention and emotion discrimination), but if we want to persuade, we should use this information:

If you want to influence or coerce somebody, touch them!

And if you want to take your persuasive skills to the next level, check out the conversational hypnosis course!

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Glasses That Help You To See People’s Emotions

Reading other people’s emotional states is a powerful skill if you want to influence them.

And right now scientists are working to bring a fascinating product to market: glasses that help you to better see the emotions of other people.

Basically these glasses do this by amplifying skin color changes.

You see, when we experience emotions, it changes the tone of our skin – but mostly in very subtle ways, so subtle that much of it is never consciously processed.

There are some people who through long and intensive training learn to enhance their observational powers. (In fact, Richard Bandler, the co-founder of NLP – neurolinguistic programming – once said that he has learned to simply observe people so much better that he can see things with his eyes that make other people believe he has some kind of supernatural ESP powers).

But imagine just wearing a pair of glasses, and then skin color-tone changes become much more obvious to you.

However, you can also use hypnosis to increase your observational powers.

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The Fascinating Facebook Force Peeking Into Your Mind

Actually, it’s not just facebook. And it’s not about any privacy issues that have been commonly addressed.

It’s about an emerging field that most people aren’t even aware of.

A lot of psychology and neurology stuff used to be done on rats in laboratories.

It’s still being done. But there’s a new frontier.

Today’s labs are digital, and the rats are no longer rats: it’s you and me, and all our well-connected fellow human beings.

There are companies who specialize in analyzing user behavior to a degree that most simply don’t get yet. And it’s a strong persuasive force. They are learning how to manipulate our minds. They are collecting incredible amounts of data, and they are getting better and better at generating insights out of it.

There’s an article in BusinessWeek that touches on this – although the main focus of the article is on a new tech bubble.

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Conflict Solving

Here’s a clip by William Ury – one of the foremost authorities on the art of negotiation.

He is a lot more mainstream than the things we focus on at Conversation Coercion – but it is good to know about him.

Watch it especially the part between minute 5 and 7. (In the second half of the video, he’s basically pitching his idea for creating peace in the middle east, and if you’re not interested in that subject, skip it).

Now, there’s no particular”technique” in here – but an important meta-strategy when it comes to controlling the conversation. And you learn something about the mindset of successful conflict solvers.

If you need specific techniques, you can always check out Igor’s course.

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President Obama using psychological tricks in his speeches?

Here’s the video I was mentioning in my email:

Now there are a couple of things I want you to watch out for.

I already talked about the opening statement in my email and I’m not going to repeat that here. If have haven’t read it yet, check the email I sent you.

But notice the camera work. It’s changing at certain times of the video. And those changes are done very strategically.

At 1:05 Obama get’s “closer”, more “intimate”, he talks “directly” to you in a more “personal” manner.

The whole segment that comes after that until the next change in the camera view is subconsciously processed by the brain as a separate message from the first one.

In the field of NLP and hypnosis, this is called analogue marking, and it’s usually done by the change of tone of voice, or by changing the speed of speech, or many other small things (like changing the distance to the speaker…), and it can be used for embedded commands and nested loops.

Then there are two more segments, again separated by the camerawork and the content of his speech.

It’s very subtle, yet, very powerful at the same time precisely because it’s so subtle that most people never notice it, and if they do, they don’t think of it. Only our small conversational coercion community here is taking notice of that stuff.

Is it “bad” the President Obama is using these techniques? (There are more than the ones I pointed out here used in his speech, but take it one step at a time).

I don’t think it’s bad – because whatever you think of the man or the politics he does, the message he transports in this video is a positive and encouraging one. And positive messages should always be “amplified” through the help of persuasion to make them more effective, and more powerful.

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