Thursday, June 26, 2008

'Because' Is a Powerful Little Word

An excellent bit by Robert Cialdini et al. The book is called Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive.
Hmm. And my Dad wondered why 'because' is such a high-frequency word in my vocabulary. Methinks I'll send him this book.
"Behavioral scientist Ellen Langer and her colleagues decided to put the persuasive power of this word to the test. In one study, Langer arranged for a stranger to approach someone waiting in line to use a photocopier and simply ask, "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?" Faced with the direct request to cut ahead in this line, 60 percent of the people were willing to agree to allow the stranger to go ahead of them. However, when the stranger made the request with a reason ("May I use the Xerox machine, because I'm in a rush?"), almost everyone (94 percent) complied...

Here's where the study gets really interesting...This time, the stranger also used the word because but followed it with a completely meaningless reason. Specifically, the stranger said "May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?"
The rate of compliance was 93 percent."
graph per amazon
hat tip to MR for the pointer


Anonymous said...

because it's easier to convince people this way :)

Anonymous said...

what always kills me is the very mature answer 'just 'cause.'

aflo said...

Definitely gonna start incorporating it more often into my daily vocabulary. What a difference one word can make!