After reading this, would you consider it to be a great post? Or an amazing post?

Posted by on Jan 18, 2017 in Blog Post, Neuromarketing

In the previous post we discussed how context can affect how individuals make decisions. The experiment by the Carnegie Mellon University team that showed this did not stop there however. They also tested how phrasing can affect an individual’s likelihood to divulge information [See The Best of Strangers].

For example you could ask someone a question in 3 ways:
1. “have you ever done hard drugs”
2. Rate the following from 1 to 10, where 1 is not ethical and 10 is very ethical, only if you have engaged in it.
“doing hard drugs”
3. Rate the following from 1 to 10, where 1 is not ethical and 10 is very ethical, only if you have -not- engaged in it.
“doing hard drugs”

All three ways extract personal information (whether or not you have done hard drugs). But the Carnegie Mellon team discovered that method 2 was 1.8 times more likely to elicit a personal admission than method 1, and method 3 was 2.21 times more likely.

So what does this mean?

Phrasing/Wording Matters!…. It Matters A Lot!

How you phrase a question, the copy on a website, the text on an advertisement or anything else, is incredibly important. Let’s look at a practical example of this:

Patrick Renvoisé [see Neuro-marketing: is there a ‘buy button’….], an author of various marketing books once came across a homeless man outside a restaurant holding a sign that said “HOMELESS PLEASE HELP.” He offered the man two dollars on the condition that he could change the sign for 2 hours, and offered the man $5 if he would wait for him to come out.  Two hours later, Patrick Renvoisé came out of the restaurant, and instead of giving the homeless man $5, the homeless man insisted on giving him $10. Why?  Because the new sign “WHAT IF YOU WERE HUNGRY” made the homeless man $30 an hour, more than triple the norm.

What this shows is the power of wording. Many studies have been done on this topic, and many posts in this blog will cover more of the neuroscience behind it.  But until those posts appear, consider this:

A 2006 study [see On The Potential…]  found that when the sentence “You can trust us to do the job for you” was placed at the end of an advertisement, individuals rating the ad on criteria found competency to be 33% better, quality 30% better, fair treatment 20% better etc. In other words, you can improve the success of your business online, just by telling your customers they can trust you.

You can trust us with this sound advice.

In the future we will cover various topics such as:

  • Phrasing to elicit emotion
  • Statistical Survey question/response bias
  • Words that build trust
  • Phrasing to elicit purchases
  • Framing situations to generate desired responses

So make sure you check back weekly or subscribe, so you can learn the secrets to a successful business.

Sources Cited / Further Research

The Best of Strangers: Context Willingness to Divulge Personal Information – Leslie K. Jon, Allesandro Acquisti, George Loewenstein –

Neuro-marketing: Is There a ‘Buy Button’ in the Brain? Selling to the Old Brain for Instant Success – Patrick Renvoisé, Christophe Morin – At Google Books

On the Potential for Advertising to Facilitate Trust in the Advertised Brand – Fuan li, Paul W. Miniard – Journal Article (needs to be purchased)

Copyright A Light in the Rain Ltd. 2017