“The active part of man consists of powerful instincts, some of which are gentle and continuous; others violent and short; some baser, some nobler, and all necessary.” – Francis W. Newman, Born Jun. 27, 1805.
One of the mistakes a novice persuader can make is to attempt to work on the mark's logic.
But that's folly, since logic lies behind the gate of skepticism.
The more experienced persuader knows to evoke and manipulate emotions.
And that is superior because emotion precedes behavior, and behavior can precede even needing a logical justification for it until after it's been done.
But the subtle master works on the level of tickling instinct.
If logic is the outer layer of the human psyche, and emotion is the interior, then instinct is at the core.
It's machine code. It precedes emotion. It demands reaction. It's where fight-or-flight lives. It's where eat-or-fuck lives.
When you can tap into deep human instincts, you can get people to take your desired actions without even thinking about it. Without even realizing they've decided to.
To find where instincts are, look to things like the concept of the “seven deadly sins” they taught weirdos like me in Catholic school.
Lust, avarice, envy, wrath, pride, gluttony, and sloth – these sins all have to do with obsessive behaviors humans can fall prey to over-indulging. Against all logic and desire not to. Why does that happen?
Because these “sins” touch our biological instinctual drives.
Reproduction. Hoarding. Hunting. Violence. Preening. Consumption. Rest. All things we need to do to survive, from the time we were still living in the trees as animals.
Can you harness your desired activity to the fulfillment of one of these instinctual drives all humans share? Acquisition, nesting, propagation of genetic material through reproduction…
Or at least the modern human equivalents. Buying stuff, consuming stuff, sex for pleasure's sake…
If you can, you can inspire action without needing authority or argument or logic or debate.
Instinct can trigger action without reason – action before emotion. It's instant. It's powerful.
And it's kind of irresponsibly easy to do.
<!—- lagniappe A lot of times people will ask me for examples of stuff that I tend to think is obvious and self-explanatory. So I want to take this space to point out very common images you have seen literally thousands of times in popular fiction and advertising that are meant to tickle these instincts in consumers, without them realizing it, regardless of the product being sold. 1. The closeup of the signature, the handshake, the sign outside being adjusted - the deal is made. The item has been acquired and there is a moment of ceremony shown. Getting stuff that you want feels good. Hoarding of resources is an instinct. 2. Exiting the expensive vehicle or entering the room in fashionable attire where all the other people present take notice. Potential mates and followers are happy. Rivals show pain and disdain. Bonus points if this arrival occurs with an attractive mate in tow. 3. Comfort and security portrayed through total relaxation. Could be reclining at ease in one’s home or tucked in cozy and sleeping soundly in one’s bed. Showing safety and ease and allowing release of stress. 4. The incidental look of desire from an attractive potential partner. The eyes, the smile, maybe a wink. All done through body language and usually positioned as unrelated to whatever the offer is. 5. The approving and supportive look from friends, partners, family etc. when some goal is achieved with the help of the solution being offered. This speaks to tribal identity and a sense of belonging. 6. Defeat of one’s rivals. The offer gives the prospect that secret edge that is needed to come back and conquer after being showed to lose. Comeuppance. Vindication. Reversal of fortune. 7. BONUS - any of the above combined with a breaking of the fourth wall, where a character from the fictional scenario looks out through the screen to the viewer with acknowledgement, perhaps even a blatant wink and a nod. An induction into the fiction they want to be part of. These are ways we have all seen these deeper drives being used to make products and services more desirable, and often, they are subtle, and delivered purely visually. Sometimes even excessively so as a sort of inside joke with the audience. The old Mentos candy commercials come to mind. What other ones have you seen? —->
1 thought on “To Persuade Quickly: Attack Instinct Via Emotions, Then Logic”
Oof, this was a gooder. Especially helpful was the little extra examples you gave with the email.