“We can only pay attention to a few things”

Most commercial choices have way too many aspects for a normal human being to take them all into account. Therefore we have a tendency to only focus on a few of them, excluding those that are less conspicuous. Those that have noticeable differences, for example. This way we place too much importance on one aspect, causing an error in accurately predicting how happy we will be with each option.

This unequally focusing on aspects is called the focusing effect (the focusing effect is closely related to the attentional bias).

focussing effectScientific research example:

For example, Schkade and Nobel Price winner Daniel Kahneman (1998) asked people how much happier they believe Californians are compared to Midwesterners. In general we think that Californians must be considerably happier (even Midwesterners :-). In reality, there’s no difference…

What happens is that we focus and overweigh on the typical differences like sunny weather and the easy-going lifestyle of California. Whereas in reality, there is a huge number of aspects that are often even more important influencers of happiness (e.g. crime rates…).

Online Persuasion tips:

  • Put focus on only a few (up to three) USP’s.
  • Emphasize your most unique USP so intensely, that your customers lose focus on less favorable aspects.
  • Do not necessarily focus on your best aspects, but also on those that differ significantly from your competitors.
  • Also play emphasis on the huge change that happens the moment people buy your product, or use your service.


Focussing Effect

Focussing Effect

Online Dialogue tested the effect of putting more focus on the interest rate for the online bank ‘MoneYou’ (operates in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany). Moving the interest rate from the title into the visual in a focus attracting manner, improved their conversion rate with 17%.

Further reading on the focusing effect:

  • Schkade, D. A., & Kahneman, D. (1998). Does living in California make people happy? A focusing illusion in judgments of life satisfaction. Psychological Science, 9, 340-346.
  • Focusing effect on Wikipedia

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