The Stanley Milgram shock study is an age-old experiment that demonstrates our habitual response to authority. We, by instinct, obey authority even if the orders from that authority appear unethical.
In 2009, nearly 50 years later, Jerry M. Burger repeated the experiment and discovered:
People are still just as willing to administer what they believe are painful electric shocks to others when urged on by an authority figure.”
It is human nature to trust authority. We trust those in uniform and people with big titles or degrees. These people have authority and appear to communicate results, wisdom, and trust.
Mentioning a product was designed by a distinguished Ph.D. or endorsed by a blue chip media company can build credibility. Also consider co-opting expertise.
For example, pharmaceutical companies recognize the influence generated when doctors talked to other doctors about drugs. Doctors lower their defenses when someone they can relate to as an authority is talking to them. A sales rep is not a credible authority in this circumstance.
In the course of a writing copy, fall back on the results of expert opinions and critical studies.
And don’t forget to include mentions from big media like Time or the New York Times. These endorsements pack a punch in a promotion. As well as on your about page.
You can read other articles in this series:
- A Simple Way to Get People to Believe Your Big Claim
- What the End of the World Can Teach Us about Being Specific
- How to Be More Successful When You Ask a Favor
- Want to Sweep Away Skepticism? Demonstrate Your Product
- Will People Trust Your Copy If You Ignore Their Objections?
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This article originally appeared as part of this Salesforce article (which I am told by a source close to the company is their most socially popular post).
Doug Francis says
I was just at a site where the mortgage broker boasted about being on The Apprentice with Trump. Funny, but my real estate client rolled her eyes essentially saying, “well, that rules her out.”
My point is that it is important to remain selective and timely. When she wrote about her endorsement from Trump his NBC show (he’s been replaced) was probably a big hit!
Divya Ramamurthy says
This is a problem that we are seeing more and more in society today. People are blindly following others without thinking because they believe they don’t have the capability of know what’s best. This is a big issue with how the human brain has developed in the recent years.
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