6 Universal Principles of Persuasion
3 Behavioral Neuroscience Triggers
Our brains are hard-wired to make decisions based on visual and emotional content. Neuroscience is really a shortcut to getting to “yes.”
To understand how this works, the first thing you must know is that your brain is split into two main sections: new and old.Your new brain controls thinking. Your old brain controls behavior, decision-making and emotions.
Guess where decision-making happens? In the old brain! So data doesn’t influence it. Images and stories do.
So why not use the way our brains are wired to drive results – clicks, shares, comments and donations?
Here are three ways to appeal to human emotions using visuals:
1. Use facial cues – People are hard-wired from birth to react to faces. Babies look to their mothers for non-verbal cues that set the tone for their interaction. Supporters look for pain to see if someone needs help; to joy to see if someone received help. It’s why you see photos of emaciated children and sad puppies in fundraising appeals, and photos of smiling, happy people in thank you letters and impact reports.
2. Help people feel the experience – Have you ever seen someone accidentally cut themselves, then hear yourself exclaiming “ouch?” This reaction is caused by mirror neurons in the brain. When you see pictures or video of an action, your mirror neurons make you feel like you’re actually experiencing what you’re watching.
When you use video it’s easy for folks to imagine being in the shoes of those your organization helps. If they see someone crying, they want to cry too. This helps you trigger the phenomenon of “there but for the grace of the lord go I,” which plays to people’s empathy. When you connect with people on a gut level, it makes them want to act.
3. Remind people of their memories – Triggering old memories is similar to triggering mirror neurons. It taps into people’s emotions. They remember how they felt then, which acts as a shortcut to how you want them to feel now.
Marketers use images of happy families to persuade you to buy their product and be just like them. Nonprofits might do the same to persuade supporters to help a family stay together. Or nonprofits might show kids graduating from college to remind folks of a feeling of accomplishment; they hope you’ll want to bring to bring this same experience to disadvantaged youth.