Sunday, April 23, 2006

Power of Changing Perception

The Power of Changing Perception

Copyright 2006 by Kevin Hogan

Here are the names of four cities.

Canton, Ohio
Champaign, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Cleveland, Ohio

If you had to pick one, which of the four cities would you consider living in? Say that city's name out loud or write it down.

If you had to pick one, which of the four cities would *not* consider living in? Say that city's name out loud or write it down.

The vast majority of people say they would consider Chicago but not Cleveland, even if they have not been to either city because of perceptions they have of the cities.



Look again....

Seeing the Big Picture

I showed half of the people in the room at Influence: Boot Camp a piece of paper with the word "Detroit."

I showed the other half of the people in the room, the word, "Michigan." (Detroit of course, is one city in the huge State of Michigan.)

I then said, "Write down how many murders happened last year, in the city or state you just saw."

Results: Should be that Detroit has 1/10 the murders of the entire state as Detroit has a population of one million and the state has a population of 10 million. In real life Detroit had 385 murders, total in Michigan about 700.

Our project showed that the median number of murders predicted in Detroit was 437. In Michigan only 430.

The results are similar to most studies with other groups using this city and state.

So what's up with this?

The population of Michigan is 10 TIMES the population of Detroit, but people think that more murders happen in Detroit than in the entire State of Michigan. (Remember Detroit is one city IN Michigan.)

It makes no sense.

Of course.

Because humans aren't "make sense" creatures.

We are perception creatures.

(OK, I won't use the word "creature" again...)

We think Detroit = violent crime in our minds. Doesn't have to be real. It's just what we perceive to be true. Could be an accurate perception, could be inaccurate. It's what people perceive.

Similarly, people think Michigan = nice place in our minds. Doesn't have to be real. It's just what people perceive to be the case. Could be accurate. Might be inaccurate. It's what people perceive.

This is the Power of Perception.

How does perception affect our view of the world?

How Perception Affects Our View of the World

People's perceptions skew their view of everything in the world. Their perceptions (generally inaccurate) cause the world to be different from what the world is really like. That changes how people decide about things... changes whether they will react to your message in a good way or a bad way. Changes whether people will like you or not.

If you have the perception that there are more murders in Detroit than all of Michigan, how likely are you to move to Detroit? To buy a house there?


Perception changes the possibilities for persuasion. So, quite often to change the potential results for persuasion we have to change people's perceptions.

So people have developed all of these beliefs and attitudes...perceptions...about pretty much everything. They have skewed perceptions about Democrats and Republicans. They have opinions about Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists. They have strong attitudes about Americans, Europeans, Arabs and Aussies.

How Do You Change Perception?

Well of course, that's in large part what The Science of Influence 1-48 is all about, but let's look at one very powerful strategy.

PRIOR to delivering a persuasive message, you want to elicit subsets of agreement that combine to form perceptions about bigger things.

Big Example: You want someone to vote Democrat (for Senator Clinton, say, in the next Presidential election) and the person you are talking to is a Republican (or Libertarian, like me).

You have a challenge on your hands...

Most Blue people don't vote Red and most Red don't vote Blue. So you have your work cut out for you. But there is a way...

What are Republican values? (In the good ole' days it was low taxes, strong military, smaller government, pay off national debt)

You ask, "Before I ask you how you are going to vote, would you consider a candidate that was in favor of a strong military for the defense of the United States?" (That's tough to say no to.) If the person says yes, you put a check mark on a piece of paper.

You ask, "Are you in favor of reducing taxes for everyone, cutting spending across the board, and ultimately eliminating the deficit?"

You ask, "Are you open minded enough to consider voting for someone outside of the Republican Party if they shared these views with you, promised to stick to these views and you still could be comfortable voting "the ticket" for the other candidates?"

Now, in our hypothetical question, we've eliminated the question, "Would you vote for Senator Clinton?"

Why and how does this work?

We've taken values that she must adopt when she runs for President or she won't get elected. And then we've not threatened the person's sense of identity by not asking them to switch party. That's like asking a Muslim to become a Christian or vice versa. It's rather insulting....and people don't like to be insulted.

And by the way, notice it's "Senator Clinton". Why? Here are three pictures:

Hillary Clinton (not good)
Senator Clinton (good picture)
Mrs. Clinton (not good) It's all in the perception.

And you didn't insult the person.

Now you say, "I know this sounds a bit wild, but Senator Clinton has taken a strong stand on these issues because of XYZ reasons. It's hard to say how many Democrats will support this move toward the center but she needs your vote to accomplish your goals."

You have to tell the person that you know this sounds ludicrous. But there it is in black and white. People's resistance will come down if YOU state the obvious so they don't have to.

Make sense?

(By the way, I do think Sen. Clinton will run in 2008, I personally won't likely vote for her, and as long as there is no significant 3rd party candidate, I think she has a very, very good chance of winning if she does adopt these positions.)

Work the subsets before tackling the entire issue. Build an unconscious mind case for your proposal and then ask the more difficult question.

Then you have taken the first step in learning the power of changing perception.

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Discover how skeptical and non-skeptical people perceive and respond to persuasive messages in a VERY different fashion. (Hint: If you don't know this information you will automatically lose almost 1/4 of all of your encounters.)

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Also available:Science of Influence: The Tactics and Techniques of Persuasion.