Framework 93 REDUCE


This approach is about using self-persuasion to change people's minds and behaviours.

The traditional approach to change relied upon education and emotions, ie present the facts clearly and correctly, and link it with something they care about (emotions). This does not always work. Better to identify barriers to changing and find ways to remove these barriers.

It stresses the need to remove roadblocks and eliminate obstacles (sometimes hidden) to change, ie asking the following questions around what is preventing change:

"...Why hasn't that person changed already? What is blocking them?......How to overcome inertia, incite action, and change minds..."

Jonah Berger, 2020


The power of inertia (conservation of momentum) works against change. People are happy to stay with the status quo as it is familiar, eg

- use last year's budget as the starting point for this year

- organisations prefer to stay with known initiatives and are wary of starting new ones

The traditional way to handle inertia is to 'coax, convince and encourage', ie push, push & push

"...Clients not buying the pitch? Send them more facts and reason. Bosses not listening to the idea? Give them more examples or a deeper explanation......the assumption is that pushing harder will do the trick. That if we provide more information, more facts, more reasons, more arguments, or just add a little more force, people will change..."

John Berger, 2020

Unfortunately this approach often backfires, ie does not work!!!

It assumes that people are like innate objects, ie the more you push one way, the more they will go that way. In fact, people tend to push back rather than agreeing.


Science offers us an alternative, ie catalysts. They are special substances that speed up change, ie

"...Enabling molecules that might take years to interact to do so in seconds..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Usually a chemical reaction needs energy, like turning nitrogen gas into fertiliser by using temperature and pressure that forces the reaction. However, catalysts do it differently, ie they lower the barriers to change that stop people from taking action to change.

"...It's not about pushing harder. It's not about being more convincing or a better persuader. These tactics might work once in a while, but more often than not they just lead people to up their defences..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Using a catalystic approach to drive

"...product adoption, changing behaviour, and shifting organisational culture..."

Jonah Berger 2020


In science

"...reaction happens when molecules collide. Rather than increasing the frequency of collisions, as adding energy does, catalysts increase their success rate. Instead of bouncing around on a bunch of blind dates, hoping something sticks, a catalyst acts as a matchmaker, encouraging react..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Hostage negotiator

Change champions are like a good hostage negotiator, ie they know how to persuade people (mentally and emotionally) rather than bullying them or using coercive techniques. Good hostage negotiators start by listening and building trust.

"...They encourage suspects to talk through their fears and motivation and who's waiting for them back home..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

They will talk about anything that can defuse the situation, like pets.

The aim is to reduce suspects' fear, uncertainty and hostility by identifying what is preventing the change from happening and then removing that barrier(s).

Five principles (REDUCE)

R = Reactance

E = Endowment

D = Distance

U = Uncertainty

CE = Corroborating Evidence

1. Reactance (it happens when people feel that they are not in control, ie they are instructed, or told, to do something, rather than asked; people prefer to see their behaviour is driven by themselves, ie their own thoughts and preferences; people have an innate anti-persuasion system that kicks in when they sense they are losing autonomy, control, freedom of choice, etc; to handle this barrier you need to encourage people to persuade themselves and get ownership of the change process.

Examples of reactance include:

- avoidance, eg shoppers avoiding sales staff, etc

- ignoring the message, eg changing TV channels during advertisements, etc

- counter-arguing, eg actively contesting it or working to combat it, ie

"...people refute each claim and undermine the source..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

More on reactance

i) changing warnings into recommendations (eg warning people about health risks like teenage cigarette smoking in USA, tide pod challenge (eating of laundry chemical pods), etc can backfire, ie encourage their use rather than discourage their use

"...telling people not to do something has the opposite effect; it makes them more likely to do it..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

However, when people are given more autonomy and personal control (freedom), ie they get to choose, they perform better and are happier.

"...choice is so important that people prefer it even when it makes them worse off......When people's ability to make their own choice is taken away or even threatened, they react against the potential loss of control..."

Jonah Berger, 2020


"...pushing, telling, or just encouraging people to do something that makes them less likely to do it..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Anything that interferes with people's ability to see their decisions as their own can have a negative impact.)

ii) agency (encourage people to persuade themselves, rather than being persuaded by others, ie

"...not by telling people what to do or by being completely hands-off, but by finding the middle ground. Guiding their path..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

For example, teenage smoking

"...for decades, adults had been telling kids not to smoke. Smoking is bad. Cigarettes will kill you. Stay away from them. Again and again and again..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

The approach of 'we know what's best for you and you should behave accordingly' is ineffective. An alternative was developed, ie truth campaign, where the facts were laid out for the teenagers to make up their own minds. Some truths included how the cigarette companies and the media were manipulating teenagers and were making money from that. There was no attempt to try to persuade teenagers. Within a couple of years, teenage smoking rates had halved in the USA.

"...It was the most effective large scale prevention program. Ever..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

The success of the campaign was based on allowing the teenagers to make their own decisions and not telling them what to do. They were allowed to chart their own path and become active participants rather than passive bystanders, ie making them feel they were in control

In summary

"... Four key ways......are i) provide a menu, ii) ask, don't tell iii) highlight a gap, and iv) start with understanding..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

More on these 4 keys

a) menu (this involves giving people a choice so that they feel in control. By selecting an option, people feel that they are the decision maker!!! Sometimes called guided choices. An example: during negotiations for working conditions like salaries, a manager will give you trade-offs, eg an extra week's vacation is equivalent to less salary, etc. This allows for you to choose which dimension is more important and you are playing an active role in the process. This is linked with the Pareto efficiency, ie

"...letting potential hires choose between options equally acceptable to the boss while simultaneously allowing them to improve the outcome for themselves..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

A menu provides

"...a limited set of options from which people can choose..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

For example, it is like going to a restaurant where there is a menu and you have a limited choice, ie an Italian restaurant will have Italian food to select from, not Asian, etc..

Similarly, when presenting to an organisation, you should give them limited choices so that they can select the one they like best. This will increase the buying-in, ownership, etc as they are active participants in the process. However, if you only give one idea, the discussion will focus on the negatives of that idea.

"...they spend a lot of time counter-arguing. Thinking about all the various reasons why it is a bad idea or why something else is better..."

Johan Berger, 2020

b) ask, don't tell (ask questions rather than make statements so that people reach the realisation on their own; use questions to boost outcomes.

Questions are powerful for the following reasons:

i) provide a menu with choice

ii) move to listener's role from counter-arguing, ie thinking of all the reasons they disagree with the statement, to figuring out an answer to the question

iii) increase buy-in, ownership, participation, etc as the answer to the question is their own, ie reflecting their own personal thoughts, beliefs, preferences, etc; this will increase the chance of taking action

iv) encourage listeners to commit to a conclusion, ie

" behave consistently with whatever answer they gave..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

An example is the need to change statements like 'junk food makes you fat' to a question like 'do you think junk food is good for you?'

When trying to change teams, organisations, etc, it is better to start by asking questions than pushing a predetermined plan. Questions will give you a

i) better picture of the range of perspectives from different stakeholders

ii) encourage people to participate in the process, ie encourage ownership, buy-in, etc)

c) highlight a gap (a disconnect between someone's thoughts and actions or a disparity between what they might recommend for others versus do themselves; people strive for internal consistency, ie

"...They want their attitude, beliefs and behaviours to align......consequently, when attitudes and behaviours conflict, people get uncomfortable........"

Jonah Berger, 2020

This misalignment is called cognitive dissonance. Most people are keen to take steps to bring this back in line.

Reminding people

"...they don't always practise what they preach can encourage them to change their practices..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

For example, staff who like using an old, inefficient process are unlikely to recommend the same approach to new staff.

"...There is a disconnect between what people are saying or doing and what they would recommended for others..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

For example, people who are climate change deniers, don't want polluted air for their children.

Sometime staff are not keen stop a loss-making project. The best way to handle this is to shift the reference point, ie if you are starting again and know what you know now, would you recommend starting the project? Or what would happen if you had a new boss. What would he/she do?

Need to highlight the disconnect to help people recognise it and work to resolve it.)

d) start with understanding (follow a sequence, ie

Step 1 - develop trust so that they are willing to listen (gain an insight into the people you are dealing with In order to comprehend and appreciate their position, feelings and motives; show that you understand)

Step 2 - form a relationship by allowing the others to talk while you listen, non-judgementally (asking the right questions to show that you are caring and listening, ie showing understanding and compassion)

Step 3 - show tactical empathy (get to the real causes rather than just the symptoms, ie discover what needs and motivations are driving their behaviour; this forms the basis for building both connection and laying the groundwork for influence; put yourself in their shoes; you are part of their team; use inclusive pronouns like 'we', 'together', 'our', etc)

Step 4 - solve things from their perspective (use of their words, ie paraphrasing, reframing and mirroring; making them feel part of a team; don't talk from your perspective; be non-judgemental)

NB These steps build understanding and establish trust so that people are willing to listen; people feel understood and cared about when trust develops.

Use repurposing reactance, ie need to open up the lines of communication and to make sure that everyone gets a chance put their point of view. This will increase the chance of their listening. Yet

" most negotiations, arguments, or discussions, people spend a lot of time thinking about what they are going to say next. Why what you said is wrong, or a justification of why their side is right. Which means that, instead of focusing what you are saying, they're thinking about counter arguments. Rather than really hearing what you have to say, they're monitoring the conversation, looking for spots to get their points in..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

NB there is a large gap between expectations and understanding of the required activities to achieve the expectations.

Giving people a menu and asking rather than telling, avoids upsetting their sense of control

2. Endowment (people have strong attachment to the status quo

"...People are often 'neophobic': they undervalue and  avoid new addition to undervaluing new things, people also overvalue what they have already......Change is hard, because people tend to overvalue what they have; what they already own or are already doing..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Neophobia is the fear, or a dislike, of anything new.

People tend to demand more to give something up than to acquire something new.

"...Ownership even increases the perceived value of beliefs and ideas. When something is ours, we value it more......the longer people do or own something, the more they value it......The more they become attached to it, the harder it becomes to give it up..."

Jonah Berger, 2020)

This overvaluing also extends to obtaining things that are similar to what they already had

Need to understand

- loss aversion (losses loom larger than gains, ie the benefits need to be greater than two and a half times the downside for people to change. This doesn't mean that the new thing will be twice as good as what it is replacing. It is the perceived gains and losses that matter, ie the service may be twice as fast but unless the customer is worried about speed, it is not important

"...Loss aversion doesn't operate on attributes but on change......Truly understanding somebody's needs and values helps determine whether a particular change will be perceived as a gain or a loss..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

For example, if a new car has all the benefits of the old one, there is no perceived loss).

- switching costs refers to the financial, psychological, procedural (time and effort) cost to change.

(for more details on loss aversion and switching costs, see elsewhere in the knowledge base)

Ways to handle endowment include

- the costs of inaction, ie the risks and cost of doing nothing

"...when the status quo is terrible, it's easy to get people to switch. They are willing to change because inertia isn't a viable option......but when things aren't terrible, or are just okay but not great, it's harder to get people to budge......terrible things get replaced, but mediocre things stick around. Horrible performance generates action, but average performance generates complacency..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

"...change is costly. New products cost money and new services take time to learn how to use. New initiatives take effort to develop and new ideas take time to get accustomed to..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Generally people prefer the benefits now and the costs later. Unfortunately, usually the costs of change are immediate and more certain; the benefits take longer to happen and are more uncertain. This is referred to as the cost-benefit timing gap and helps explain why many people do nothing, ie it is easier to stick to the status quo if things are going okay or 'good enough'.

An example is losing weight and living healthier have long-term benefits while the short-term costs are not eating delicious but unhealthy food.

By lowering the upfront costs (see below) can help close cost-benefit timing gap, ie

"...By moving experience up and often delaying the cost, the trial increases the chance that people will take action now..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Thus need to highlight how much people are losing by doing nothing. Remember: people are more motivated by loss than gain.

Some ways to handle endowment

- burn the ships, ie going back is no longer an option. An example of this is when introducing new software, to take away the support of the software being replaced, ie people have no choice but to upgrade to the new software.

- easing endowment, ie helping people let go of the 'old' rather than making them comfortable with the new)

3. Distance (new information needs to be within people's zone of acceptance, ie willing to listen; if it outside the zone of acceptance, it will be rejected, ie communication is ignored and opposition can increase; changes should ask for less, not push for more; need to locate 'sticking points' to change minds.

It has been found that exposing people to different points of view to their own does not change minds. In fact, it can reinforce their own points of view and sometimes make them more extreme.

It is assumed that providing evidence, like data, information, facts, figures, etc would encourage people to change their minds, ie up-date your thinking based on the evidence provided. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen, eg exposing the mis-information on the impacts of vaccination actually increased the negativity to vaccination. This is the reverse of what was anticipated.

"...Rather than changing false beliefs, exposure to the truth often increased misconceptions..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Some more comments on distance

- zones/lattitude of acceptance or rejection (it is the range of perspectives in which people will strongly agree or disagree with, or actively accept as right, or reject as wrong. If incoming information falls into their zone of acceptance, it will be accepted. Conversely, if information falls in the region of rejection, it will not be accepted and can even shift, or reinforce, attitudes in the wrong direction. "...people have a range, or zone around their beliefs that they are willing to consider......the further afield the message, the less likely they'll listen. And the more likely it will push them in the opposite direction..."

Johan Berger, 2020

- confirmation bias, ("...People search for, interpret, and favour information in a way that confirms or supports their existing person's truth is another's 'fake news'......Rather than uniting opposing sides, exposure to evidence sometimes just widens the gap..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Making appeals to people who have similar views works. However, it backfires against people who hold the opposite perspective.


"...if people think information is true, they think it came from their side. If they think it's false, it must have come from the opposition..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

(for more detail, see other parts of this Knowledge Base)

Zones of acceptance or rejection, confirmation bias, etc makes changing minds more difficult.

"...Not only do people have to be willing to change, they have to be willing to listen to information that might open them up to that possibility..."

 Jonah Berger, 2020

Some ways to handle this include

- targeting specific markets (rather than going for the complete market, target people who have similar preferences, characteristics, points of view, beliefs, etc with specific messages that are most relevant to them, eg with a new product, find the subgroup that already needs it; go for the 'movable middle ground')

- divide into smaller and more manageable portions (ask for less; taper an initial request so that it falls within someone's zone of acceptance; need to be careful of asking too much initially, ie start small and build up and/or divide the task into manageable portions, ie chunking (shrink the size of the request, eg in India where people cannot afford developed countries' prices, an organisation started offering smaller sizes, ie sachets, at cheaper prices), stepping stones, etc ; use a slow and steady shift with many stages along the way)

- building upon where agreement (switch the field - finding and unsticking point; putting yourself in the others' 'shoes', ie understanding their perspective, including their emotional state; deep canvassing goes further, ie

"...not imagining what it is like to be somebody else, but the time you felt similarly..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Deep canvassing is linked with active processing, ie people are encouraged to do most of the talking to encourage effortful reflection so that they are truly engaging with the topic in a thoughtful way.

People are asked to share their stories

"...The canvassing works because it switches the field. Rather than starting with the contentious issue, the field in which people are far apart, it finds a dimension where people are close together. Where they agree rather than disagree. An unsticking point......Deep canvassing changes the conversation. It's no longer an abstract debate about how someone thinks they should feel......rather than starting with a tough issue that seems devisive (a sticking point), deep canvassing starts with common ground. Something everyone can rally around..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

This involves building connections and trust.

NB Perspective taking often fails, ie

"...fails to increase accuracy of predicting another person's thoughts, feelings or attitudes..."

Jonah Berger, 2020)

4. Uncertainty (often uncertainty is part of change; it makes people 'pause', ie stay where they are, as people don't like uncertainty; uncertainty is great for maintaining the status quo and terrible for changing minds; new things usually involve uncertainty; to overcome this obstacle we need to make things easier like free samples, lenient return policies, etc; need to reduce the risk by allowing people to experience things themselves)

Uncertainty element is

"...When choosing between a sure thing and a risky one, the risky option has to be much better to get chosen..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Uncertainties are more than just probabilities. Even if a new product or service has a high probability of being better, the uncertainty element still makes people feel unsure about moving forward.

To change people's minds, you have to make them feel more confident about moving forward, regardless of probabilities.

Uncertainty can be seen as worse than certain negative outcomes, eg not knowing if you are going to be fired is worse than actually being fired!!!!

"...The more change involves uncertainty, the less people are into changing......Uncertainty undermines the value of doing things differently..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Some ways to handle uncertainty revolves around trialability, ie how easy it is to try something;

"...The ease with which something can be tested or experimented with on a limited basis......The easier it is to try something, the more people will use it and the faster it catches on......Trialability is a large and significant driver of adoptation..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Trialability works because it makes things easier to try by lowering uncertainty.

Four ways to increase trialability and decrease impact of uncertainty:

i) harness freemium, ('free' means no charge and 'mium' refers to charging a premium, ie initially give part of service or product free to entice customers, once 'hooked' then charge a premium; 'free' means no charge and 'mium' refers to charging a premium; it only works if the offering is actually good, otherwise they will switch back to what they were doing before:

"...the experience is designed so that satisfied users will eventually pay to upgrade to an enhance or premier version..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

"...the success of the model hinges on how much is being given away......The key...... is giving away enough to generate a positive, upgrade-worthy experience, but not so much that no one ever wants more..."

Johan Berger, 2020

The indicators to follow:

- how many new users sign up?

- what is the conversion rate, or percentage of them upgrading?

For example, if the user growth is stagnating, then the offer is not attractive enough.

However, if new users are flooding in but only a few are upgrading, the free version is too generous

Need to check what dimensions are limited.

In deciding what dimensions are limited you need to consider:

"...What experience will provide enough certainty that it is worth paying to upgrade?..."

Johan Berger, 2020

"...if users don't discover the value of certain aspects or dimensions right away, limiting features makes the most sense. Alternatively, users get the best experience from having access to all the features right away, and limiting time or capacity may be a better option..."

Johan Berger, 2020

An example is Dropbox (cloud storage), ie  they initially provided limited free storage to encourage customers to become paying ones.

This approach allows people to explore what a service offers for free and builds up a habit of using it, ie repeat visits. In doing so, they realise themselves the value of the service provided.

"...rather than having to convince people how great Dropbox is, users convince themselves. Because they've already been using it and loving it..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Many organisations use a variation of freemium like gyms (free trial periods), online New York Times (first 10 articles a month are free), video games (what level users can access), Pandora, Skype, LinkedIn, Evite, Spotify, etc..

NB Users have the choice to upgrade from free to paying.

It is a bit like 'trying before buying'

"...not everyone pays to upgrade, but more people trying the service initially increase the chance that more people become paid users later on. Trying before buying makes people more likely to buy..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

"...Once people have started watching...... a willingness to pay to watch the rest increases substantially..."

Johan Berger, 2020)

Offering something for free, like credit, can have the effect of feeling like a loss if they don't use it.

Linked with freemuin is switching costs, ie once a person is with a particular service or product, the effort, ie switching cost, required to change to a competitor becomes greater and is less likely to happen.

ii) reduced upfront costs (like discounts, free shipping (including a conditional version, eg if one has spent a certain amount, shipping is free), free trail, 'trying before buying' (most important where people need to experience something to determine its suitability, ie sense of fit, eg clothes, shoes, furniture, etc), etc to reduce uncertainty; free shipping lay the foundations for the success of e-commerce, ie

"...allowing customers to experience things like they would in a physical store, without having to pay for the opportunity, free shipping overcame the uncertainty......and changed how people shop for ever..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

However, charging shipping can decrease the likelihood of returns as the customer has to pay. On the other hand, the positives of free shipping outweigh impacts of charging for shipping

iii) drive discovery (taking product or service to where the customers are -  like mobile carwash, financial advisers in the shopping malls; 'try before buying', etc like 'test drives' (vehicles, etc), 'pilot runs' (TV shows, etc), 'renting' (accommodation, consumables, etc), 'samples' (small amounts of free or cheap product), 'pleasant surprises' (unexpected personalised gifts and actions to make people feel that they are recognised and valued, etc, eg recognising birthdays, personal triumphs and tragedies, wedding anniversaries) etc; this is demonstrating that someone has taken time to care, etc), all lower the barriers to changing behaviour and help reduce the feeling of uncertainty.


"...Some people may not be willing to pay the market price to acquire something, many more will be willing to pay that price to avoid losing it......Encouraging them to shift from how much they would pay to acquire something to how much they would need to be compensated to give it up. And given that the latter is higher, most people will pay to stay..."

Jonah Berger, 2020)

iv) make the decision reversible (like 'trail period', 'return policies', 'money-back guarantees', 'pay for performance contracts', 'no win, no fee', etc

"...lenient return policies help change minds because they reduce people's hesitation about trying something new. Knowing you can return something anytime helps de-risk the process and can make people more comfortable taking people more time to return things can actually make returns less likely......People grow attached to the item, they feel greater ownership of it, and it becomes harder to give up..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

"...trials are also subtly shifted decisions from comparisons to single evaluation..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Linked with trialability is to reduction of the barriers to continued action. For example, in the subscription model which involves regular billing; it continues until you tell them to stop, ie the default is to continue on or opt in.

"...opt-in models reduced the barrier to continued action and encourage people to keep doing the same thing over time..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Initially when considering a purchase, people are often in a comparative mindset. However, once you have tried something, the comparative process is 'put on hold' and you are focusing on whether the one option is suitable.


"...actions that encourage trial also cleverly leverage the tendency for inertia.......inertia means sticking with what they already have. And given the number of options out there, it's easier to feel choice overload and just do nothing..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

The inertia has shifted from whether it is worth the effort to buy the product to whether it's worth the effort to get rid of what has just been ordered and shipped!!!!

NB Making things reversible can sometimes lead people to like them less, ie

"...research shows that feeling you can return or swap out something later may interrupt people's natural tendency to make themselves happy with what they have. If I can just give it back if I don't like it there is not as much need to like it in the first place..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

On the other hand, if uncertainty is about the quality or effectiveness of the product or service, making it reversible is often beneficial. It allows people to see the fit, usefulness, etc.

However, if there are uncertainties about individual preferences, then reversibility may not work.)

Which tactic you use depends upon the situation. Some examples

i) if people are interested and not sure, then offer them

- a free version initially and encourage them to upgrade and/or

- lower upfront costs through free shipping, test drives, etc and/or

- free return and trial periods, and/or   

- 'try before you buy', etc

ii) where people are unaware that something exists, then offer them

- the product brought directly to the people, and/or

- social ties highlighted to encourage trial

NB Price is not necessarily the most important thing when people make decisions; building relationships, etc is equally as important.) 

5. Corroborating Evidence (sometimes you need more proof, evidence, etc)


"...We discount information that goes against our existing views, picking it apart rather than revising our perspective..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Also, the stronger the attitude is held, the harder it is to change minds, ie the more information, texture, certainty, proof, etc is required.

Translation problem

Too often we follow the proverb

"...if at first you don't succeed, try, try again..."

Johan Berger, 2020

For example, a client is not sure whether to buy. Call them again in a week's time. Following-up can work, ie multiple exposures can encourage action, ie initially you don't pay much attention, increased exposure allows the gathering of more information and the consideration of different aspects.


"...hearing the same pitch again and again is boring, tedious and irritating. Listeners......tune out or turn it off..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

To handle this, you can vary the pitch, eg mention different features and/or benefits each time when communicating. Still this way is not necessarily effective.

"...when someone endorses or recommends something, there's always a translation problem. A puzzle..."

Jonah Berger, 2020.

What does it mean for me?

Whenever somebody recommends something, the receiver tries to evaluate it, ie

"...Does it say something about the thing being recommended, or does it just say something about the recommender themselves..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Just because someone else likes something, doesn't mean you will!!!!

We are very subjective and unique, ie what works for one person or an organisation does not necessarily work for another.

There is more than credibility involved. There is an issue of fit. Is the recommender like you, with the same interests, preferences, likes, dislikes, etc? The more the recommender is like you, the better the fit, the more likely you are to act positively.

There is strength in numbers, ie

"... Multiple sources say or do something, it's hard not to listen......hearing collaborating evidence. Reinforcement. Multiple sources can concur. They have the same view, response, or preference......this consistency means that it's much more likely you'll feel the same way..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

For example, if other organisations in your industry are using a new process effectively, you are most likely to follow.

"...Multiple sources also add credibility and legitimacy. Increasing the expectation that others will approve and lowering the risk of embarrassment or sanction..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

When considering corroborating evidence, need to consider who, when and how, ie

"...i) who else to involve (or which sources are most impactful),ii) when to place corrobating evidence over time, and iii) how to best deploy scarce resources when trying to change minds on a large scale..."

Jonah Berger, 2020


- use the most impactful sources (providing social reinforcement, ie social influence; similarity matters, ie

"...The more familiar they are, the more proof or corroborating evidence they provide, and the greater the impact...... when you see people like you - or people you aspire to be like...... it makes it harder not to listen to what they're saying. And harder not to change as a result..."

Jonah Berger, 2020


"...It is not just about how many others are doing something; it is about whether those others provide additional information.."

Jonah Berger

If the additional corroborating information comes from a different, independent, credible source, etc, a more compelling reason to listen and change.

Thus both similarity, ie same opinion and diversity, ie same opinions from different sources, can work together. Also, independence of the source of opinion can increase the likelihood of adding value.

With credible points of view it is important how they are expressed, ie expressed non-judgementally, with love and compassion, etc


- timing of exposure is important to maximise impact on activities, eg is the recipient ready to hear the advice, etc

- concentrate the communication, ie the more frequently you hear the same message like point of view, product, idea, etc, the more you will listen too; the longer the interval between communications, the more likely you are to forget and lose interest, ie

"...make sure that different media hits happen soon after one another so potential supporters hear about it multiple times in a short period..."

Johan Berger, 2020

In certain situations, however, concentration can be negative, ie

"...If people feel concentration is manipulative or need time to think over a complex proposition, more time between exposures may be useful..."

Johan Berger, 2020


- strength of the attitude (it impacts how you concentrate. If people hold weak attitudes, ie easy to change, then little proof is required to change. Thus the sprinkler or shotgun approach (spread the message widely) is effective. However, if attitudes are strong, ie hard to change, with much proof being required, a laser or firehose approach (focus message on a small group) is effective. Also,

"...the more expensive, time-consuming, risky, or controversial something is......a lot more proof is needed. The same goes for risk......the more that is at stake, the greater the financial cost, and the higher occasional risk, the more proof or evidence that is needed..."

Johan Berger, 2020

"...More proof that is needed, the more important multiple sources become. We need to find similar but diverse others to provide consistent perspectives, and concentrate those sources in time so their benefits don't evaporate. And when trying to achieve large-scale change, we need to think about whether to concentrate or spread out scarce resources..."

Johan Berger, 2020

"...too often, as potential change agents we focus on ourselves. We centre on the outcome we are looking or all the change we are hoping to see. We're so blinded by the belief that we're right that we assume if we just provide more information, facts, or reason, people will capitulate..."

Johan Berger, 2020

Need to focus less on ourselves, more on understanding the audience!!

"...not just who they are, and how their needs might be different than ours......(but) why they haven't changed already. What barriers or roadblocks are stopping them?......the more we learn about what is preventing someone from changing, the easier it is to help..."

Johan Berger, 2020

NB Big changes usually take time and involve a slow and steady shift with many stages along the way.

A classic example of using REDUCE

During World War II, the US government had to convince its meat-loving nation to replace eating steak, roasts, pork chops, etc with what is called the 'fifth quarter' or 'offal' or 'organ meat', ie sweet breads, brains, kidney, liver, hearts, tongues, etc.. Meat was regarded as an essential item for the war effort.

"...This was a harsh blow to the Americans' eating habits. Red meat was a prime source of energy, and particularly among the working class. Its presence on the plate helped define what was seen as a proper meal..."

Johan Berger, 2020

To encourage the swing, the initial messages relied on education and emotion, ie revolved around the fifth quarter being low-cost and highly nutritious plus doing your patriotic duty, ie

"...Present the facts clearly and correctly, the public must become interested, impressed and persuaded. Tell people what they should do......think it is something they care about like patriotism, they will take action..."

Johan Berger, 2020

This was ineffective, ie did not shift behaviours.

Then they recruited world- renowned psychologist, Kurt Lewin to help. Lewin's approach was different. He asked the question - why weren't people eating the fifth quarter meat, ie what was stopping them?

The answers to this question identified the following problem areas:

- the format, ie the need to give people a choice rather than demanding it was their patriotic duty

- attachment to the status quo, ie Americans liked eating steaks, etc and were not keen to give them up

- the size of the ask, ie all or nothing; changing the focus to encouraging people to eat one type of offal each week

- uncertainty, ie the public was not familiar with offal

"...housewives didn't know what brains tasted like or how to prepare kidneys, they weren't going to risk cooking it for their families..."

Johan Berger, 2020

- attitude to offal, ie useless leftovers that should be discarded and/or appropriate for lower socio-economic groups

Thus the approach changed to removing the barriers or obstacles, ie

" reduce uncertainty, they tried to make organ meat more widely available, providing recipes and cooking tips......suggested mixing it in as part of a larger dish of familiar foods that could be prepared the same way as regular meat......steak and kidney pie......could be surreptitiously slippe into meat loaf as the kids would dig shrink the distance between where people were and where the government wanted them to be...... asked for less. Rather than demanding that Americans eat beef brains every day, they asked people to try organ meat once in a while. For variety, they introduced it as a filler in ground beef and sausages. To ease endowment......focused on the cost of inaction: how sticking with steaks and pork chops was hurting the troops. And to reduce reactance and to make the change more voluntary......tried small discussion groups instead of lectures. Rather than telling homemakers what they should do, they brought them together and asked them to share their opinions. How could 'housewives like yourselves' overcome the obstacles that stood in the way. These discussions provided corroborating evidence. They allowed homemakers to see and hear how other people were solving the same to overcome their own uncertainties to help with the war effort..."

Johan Berger, 2020

This approach was effective; with almost 1/3 more women agreeing to serve offal.

" take perhaps one of the least appealing products imaginable and turn it into a delicacy in households..."

Johan Berger, 2020

In summary

"...catalysts reduce reactance, ease endowment, shrink distance, alleviate uncertainty and find corroborating evidence..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

Need to find the causes and remove the barriers as a basis for change in minds


"...Reactance (when pushed, people pushed back. So rather than tell people what to do, or trying to persuade, catalysts allow for an agency and encourage people to convince themselves.)

    Endowment (people are attached to the status quo. To ease endowment, catalyst shows the costs of inaction and help people realise that doing nothing is not as costless as it seems.)

    Distance (too far from their backyard, people tend to disregard. Perspectives that are too far away fall into the region of rejection and get discounted, so catalysts shrink distance, asking for less and switches the field.)

    Uncertainty (seeds of doubt slow the winds of change. To get people to un-pause, catalysts alleviate uncertainty. Easier to try means more likely to buy.)

    Corroborating Evidence (some things need more proof. Catalysts find corroborating evidence, using multiple sources to help overcome that translation problem)..."

Johan Berger, 2020

NB Not every situation involves all 5 principles

A checklist to mitigate common barriers

i) reduce reactance

    - allow people to chart their own path to their destination, eg truth campaign, reframing, etc

    - provide a menu

     - use guided choices

    - highlight any gaps between attitudes and behaviours

    - start with understanding the causes, before looking at influences or symptoms

    - build trust to drive change

ii) easy endowment

    - understand the status quo and what makes it attractive

    - identify the costs of sticking with the status quo

    - identify the costs of inaction

    - make going back to old ways not a feasible option   

    - reframing new things

iii) shrink distance

    - avoid confirmation bias by staying out of the 'zone of rejection'

    - start by asking for less (later can ask for more)

    - chunking the change into manageable portions

    - use of those who are 'on side' to convince others

    - identify 'sticking points' and use them to switch fields

    - find common ground to bring people together, ie deep canvassing

iv) alleviate uncertainty

    - reduce uncertainty

    - reduce use of 'pause button'

    - encourage experimentation, ie trial and error

    - leverage concepts like freemium

    - reduce upfront costs by test drives, renting, sampling, etc

    - make it easier for people to experience something themselves

    - drive discovery rather than waiting for people to come to you

    - make things reversible, ie trial periods, lenient return policies, etc

v) finding corroborating evidence

    - determine how expensive, risky, time-consuming, controversial, etc that change is

    - find the proof, evidence, etc support the change

    - check that multiple, independent sources are saying the same thing at the same time

    - determine if need a focused or generalist approach

    - determine if you need to concentrate or spread resources out

(source: )

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