Psychologists think this might be the most persuasive phrase in the world

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Wednesday 21 December 2016 09:45
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Picture:(Getty Images)

Humans are a manipulative bunch. A quick Google search for “how to persuade people” returns thousands of results.

But if you’re hoping your thirst for getting people to do what you want is going to be quenched by articles like “How to Persuade People with Subconscious Techniques” or “The 21 Principles of Persuasion” then think again.

The best way to go about it may actually be found in a small academic study carried out on the south coast of Brittany in France.

Nicolas Guéguen, a behavioural scientist, approached over 600 people and asked them to donate money to a children’s charity – however, he did so by asking half of the group one question and the other half a slightly different one. He found strikingly different results.

The first half of participants was asked:

You are probably interested in organisations for children with health problems. I wonder if you could help us by making a donation?

The second half of participants was asked:

You are probably interested in organisations for children with health problems. You will probably refuse, but I wonder if you could help us by making a donation?

The added “You will probably refuse, but” was key.

Of all those asked the second question, 39.1 per cent chose to donate money, compared to just 25 per cent of the first group.

As this video from Tech Insider explains, people are more likely to comply with this sort of request because it takes away their sense of freedom and in order to get it back, they’re likely to do what the person asks:

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