THE WHEEL OF PERSUASION

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Your customer

Your customer

Your customer is a brain. All his behavior is controlled by this 1,5 kilo of cortical proteins and fats. Every decision is made by his 100 billion brain cells and 1.000 billion glial cells that interact via a 1.000 times a 1.000 billion synapses (“It’s quite complicated” ;-).

We start to learn more and more about our brain. Also because of our World Wide Valhalla for scientists. We start to understand how we are influenced by our ‘Needs & Motivations‘, how ‘Attention & Perception‘ works, how we save and use experiences in our ‘Memory‘, and how our decisions are influenced by ‘Ratio’s & Thoughts‘, as well as by ‘Emotions & Irrationalities‘.

Facial distraction

“We can’t resist looking at faces”
When we (subconsciously) notice faces in our surroundings, we tend to first scan those faces (as shown in the picture), before looking at anything else.

Moreover, we cognitively process those faces thoroughly. Facial recognition is distinct from object recognition in terms of visual processing. There are distinctly separate parts of our brain involved (the so-called Fusiform Face Areas), and – more importantly – our brain puts a lots of complex processing in analyzing faces. Note: some visual processing of complex non-face shapes happen in this area as well.

So faces take a huge amount of cognitive

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Attentional Bias

“We pay attention to things that touch us”
The Attentional Bias is our tendency to pay more attention to emotionally dominant stimuli, and to neglect other relevant data when making decisions. So the more something touches us, the more attention we pay to it.

Classic examples of dominant emotions are i.e. pain, fear and sex. Research studying the Attentional Bias effect often involves ‘Dot Probe’ studies. In these studies a test subject has to look at the center of a screen, where two pictures with different emotions are shortly shown.

When the pictures are gone, a dot (dot probe) appears where one of

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Fear Appeals

“We will fight threats, but only if we’re told how to defeat them”
A fear appeal is a persuasive message that scares someone with the intent to motivate him to act against the threat. But since we don’t like threats, we tend to deny them, or use other defense mechanisms in order to lower our fear. Therefore fear appeals -or ‘fear evoked persuasion’- is a technique that should be used rather delicately.

Multiple variables have been found to influence the effectiveness of fear appeals, such as perceived severity, individual characteristics and -more important -susceptibility. But also the intensity of the fear:

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Reflection Effect

“We are risk-averse when we have something to gain, but risk-seeking when we have something to lose”

The reflection effect explains that we have opposite ‘risk preferences’ for uncertain choices, depending on whether the outcomes is a possible gain or a loss. The effect shows that both the Ambiguity and Risk Aversion biases are right, but only in cases where we can gain something.

Conversely, when we stand to lose something, we strongly prefer to take risks that might mitigate the loss (and therefore display risk-seeking behavior). This risk-averse versus risk-seeking behavior is called the reflection effect.

This reflection effect was discovered

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Gaze Cueing

“We automatically focus our orientation to the same object that others are looking at”
When we’re confronted with faces, we can’t help but to intensely process the eyes and their highly expressive surrounding region. Eyes reveal otherwise secret and complex mental states such as emotions, intentions, beliefs, and desires. Research indicates that eye contact accounts for roughly 55% of the information in a face-to-face conversation!

But eyes also have the irresistible power to attract and direct our attention. The perceived gaze direction of a face shifts our visual attention as a powerful magnet in the same direction.
Scientific research example
Imagine you’re looking

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Yerkes-Dodson effect

“With more incentive, our performance increases, but only to a certain extent”
When we are promised a higher incentive for a better performance, we want to perform better. At low incentive levels this increased motivation pays off. We do perform better. However, at some point increasing the incentive and thereby motivation even further, starts to backfire: we perform (a lot) worse.

This Yerkes-Dodson Effect applies to mental tasks. Tasks involving cognitive effort, resulting in an inverse U graph: first performance increases with rising incentives, but only until it reaches an optimum, and then starts decreasing steeply as incentives rise further.

This effect

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Forer effect

“We can more easily recognize ourselves in vague, mostly positive and general personality descriptions”

The Forer Effect is our tendency to highly rate the accuracy of descriptions of our personality that supposedly are tailored specifically to us. However, they are in fact vague, mostly positive and general enough to apply to a wide range of people.

Because the message is positive, but also slightly vague, we can project our own meaning into the statements, and thus, the statement becomes ‘personal’ to us (though, be aware that the self-serving bias has been shown to cancel out the Forer effect).
Scientific research example:
Imagine you

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