The Science of Persuasion: How to Get People to Agree With What You Say

“A large state does not behave at all like a gigantic municipality” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

science of persuasion

What does this statement make you think? Disagree at all? When I first read that line, I thought “Oh really? Here are some reasons why a large state could in fact behave like a gigantic municipality...” I was inclined to find fault with the statement even if there is some merit.

But it’s not the author’s fault: persuasion is hard. Here are some of the most fascinating studies, that if we just glance at them, make us believe that we almost don’t trust anyone:

Studies have shown how little people generally trust strangers. Surprisingly, studies have even shown that people trust loved ones even less than strangers, suggesting that even familiarity doesn’t compel us to trust people or believe what they say. Furthermore, the fact that people are subject to the false-consensus bias – we tend to believe that people agree with us when they do not – obscures when we need to be persuasive.

This exacerbates the divide between stakeholders with different perspectives. It also makes it harder to persuade people because we may not realize that they even need to be persuaded. Let’s take this example from a recent study at Yale:

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