In a notable experiment, people were presented with one of two requests: to fill out a survey, or to allow someone to stand before them (out of turn) in a line. In both cases, people complied more when the request was accompanied by an affirmation that they were “free to say no.”
In another experiment, when an online course was offered at a premium with a caveat that students could cancel ‘anytime with 100% refund’, registrations went up by 282%.
To get people to say yes, remind them that they are free to say no. By affirming that you are free to refund/refuse/reject/ my request, I am giving you control, so you don’t have to wrest it back. People are twice as likely to say yes in the BYAF scenario versus the control scenario.
Many parents have figured out that they can use the same principle to mellow out kids’ resistance. Rather than telling a toddler exactly what to eat (only to be met with tantrums), options are offered – “Would you like to eat this on the dining table or while playing with your Lego?” More often than not, she will choose from the choices offered and not resist ‘eating’.
Our decisions change when we grow up, but our desire to exercise control never goes away. Smart advertisers and marketeers have figured that out long ago. Do you ever use this technique with people? You are ‘free not to share’.
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