The Principle of Consensus
Especially when they are uncertain, people will look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their own.
You may have noticed that hotels often place a small card in bathrooms that attempt to persuade guests to reuse their towels and linens. Most do this by drawing a guest’s attention to the benefits that reuse can have on environmental protection. It turns out that this is a pretty effective strategy, leading to around 35% compliance. But could there be an even more effective way?
Well, it turns out that about 75% of people who check into a hotel for four nights or longer will reuse their towels at some point during their stay. So what would happen if we took a lesson from the Principle of Consensus and simply included that information on the cards and said that 75% of our guests reuse their towels at some time during their stay, so please do so as well. It turns out that when we do this, towel reuse rises by 26%.
Now imagine the next time you stay in a hotel you saw one of these signs. You picked it up and you read the following message: “75% percent of people who have stayed in this room have reused their towel.” What would you think? Well here’s what you might think: “I hope they’re not the same towels.” And like most people, you’d probably think that this sign will have no influence on your behavior whatsoever.
But it turns out that changing just a few words on a sign to honestly point out what comparable previous guests have done was the single most effective message, leading to a 33% increase in reuse. The science is telling us that rather than relying on our own ability to persuade others, we can point to what many others are already doing, especially many similar others.
So there we have it. Six scientifically validated Principles of Persuasion that provide for small practical, often costless changes that can lead to big differences in your ability to influence and persuade others in an entirely ethical way. They are the secrets from the science of persuasion.
Courtesy: 6 Principles of Persuasion in his classic book Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini