Cardinal Path’s response to COVID-19 Cardinal Path is sharing all we know to help marketers during COVID-19.  Learn more.

Ben Franklin once asked a favor of a political opponent: He asked to borrow a rare and valuable book.

Franklin’s opponent granted the favor. And afterward, he showed much more respect for Ben Franklin.

Why?

If you accept the theory of Cognitive Dissonance*, the answer is simple. The belief that “I don’t like Ben Franklin” was incompatible — or “dissonant” — with the fact that “I’ve done him a favor”. Unable to rationalize this dissonance, his opponent changed his belief and convinced himself he liked Franklin.

“Ask someone a favor. If they grant it, they’ll like you more.”

The “Ben Franklin Effect” is just one example of Cognitive Dissonance. Another example is that if something has cost us dearly (in terms of money or effort) we tend to convince ourselves that it must be wonderful.

This psychological truism has long been put to use (intentionally or not?) by social groups, religious leaders… and marketers:

  • “The hazing ritual I went through to join my fraternity was horrendous. It must be a great frat!”
  • “I’m donating 10% of my income to — and have endured all manner of inconvenience for — my religion. It must be the one true path!”
  • “My Harley was really expensive and needs constant repair. It must be a great bike!”

How can I use “Cognitive Dissonance” to make my website more persuasive?

For a hint, see my previous post on Fostering Commitment Via Written Public Statements. In that example, the two beliefs are “I am an honest person” and “I have endorsed this product”. To ensure there is no dissonance, we become more committed to the belief that the product must be good. There are endless other applications.**

In that previous post, a thoughtful reader pointed out that the principle could be used toward unethical ends. And it certainly could. So, unlike my post on How to Steal a Camera, I will stop short of giving a step-by-step guide on how to take advantage of
Cognitive Dissonance to make your website more persuasive.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if and how you could apply it. Just bear in mind the crux of the principle: that charging a very high price — or asking your customers to jump through some hoops — may work to increase customer commitment.

* Cognitive Dissonance is the theory that we find it terribly uncomfortable to hold two contradictory beliefs. For example, “I am an smart person” and “I overpaid for this product.” To reduce the discomfort, we either rationalize our behavior (e.g. “I deserve the occasional indulgence”) or change our belief (e.g. “This is a fantastic product”.)

** Including some very negative ones, as Cognitive Dissonance also applies in reverse. It explains (at least in part) how wartime atrocities can occur. To overcome the dissonance between “I am a good person”” and “I’m killing people” soldiers come to dehumanize and hate their opponents.

Sharing is caring!

Popular

COVID-19 Crisis Navigator​

In partnership with Dentsu, Cardinal Path helps you distill the overwhelming news and information into a bi-weekly report highlighting emerging trends and insights during the pandemic.

EXPLORE THE REPORT

Analytics Rising Logo

FREE VIRTUAL EVENT

October 14

Practical Strategies Delivered By Top Minds in Digital Marketing

Register for #AnalyticsRising and get a Starbucks Gift Card when you share the news.

Message Sent

Thank you.

Click here to download access the tool.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you.

Message Sent

Thank you.

Message Sent

Thank you

Message Sent

Thank you

Message Sent

Thank you.

Message Sent

Thank you

Message Sent

Thank you.

Message Sent

Success!
Your message was received.

Thank you.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Thank you for submitting the form.

Thank you for your submission.

Thank you for your submission.

Thank you for your submission.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Thank you for your submission.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Thank you for registering.​

Paid media spend by Government websites increased a whopping 139% YoY in 2020.

2020 Online Behavior Live Dashboard

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

2020 Online Behavior Live Dashboard

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Thank you for submitting the form.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for your submission.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Message Sent

Thank you for registering.

Thank you for registering.

Cardinal Path is continuing with its series of free training. Next we are conducting training on Google Data Studio. Check it out here.
Cardinal Path hosted a live session to connect with you and answer all your questions on Google Analytics.
Get all the expertise and none of the consultancy fees in this not-to-be-missed, rapid-fire virtual event.

Message Sent

Success! Thank you
for reaching out.