Video: Persuasion Triggers (TEDx Atlanta Presentation)

One of the things that bugs me when folks start talking about engagement is the mention of Gagne's Instructional events. While I think these events are great heuristic considerations, too often these events are presented as a shopping list. Like I said, I don't dislike Gagne's assertions. It's not a shopping list.  

The common interpretations of each of these considerations tends to give me pause (a nice way to say "drives me crazy"). Take for example, (1) Gain attention [captivation]. How often do we see a musical score attached to a series of images that terminates 30 to 60 seconds later with a call to action? How captivating is that? I've built plenty of these "commercials for something nobody wants".  Expectation bias. How often do you think these are worth the effort? How often do we build these because it's what we've seen before, not what we think will actually work? Nobody's fault we see a common misapplication of heuristics like Gagne's. Seems to me these are considerations, not instructions.

Maybe some better tools would help folks sort out the dimensions and factors that contribute the most to benefit of an application of media. OK. I'll get to my point... Take a look at this video: (Grr... tried 3 different methods to embed right in page, none of which worked)

I love this concept in supporting decisions made during the consideration of (1) Gain attention.Sally outlines seven triggers of persuasion / fascination and provides some illustrations of personas that possess pairings of these.

  • Power | Take Command
  • Passion | Attract with Emotion
  • Mystique | Arousal of Curiosity
  • Prestige | Increases Respect
  • Alarm | Create Urgency
  • Vice | Change the Game (Inspiration through surprise or deviation from norms)
  • Trust | Builds Loyalty (Trust / connection through consistency and stability)

I see no reason the same breakdown of triggers couldn't apply anywhere you need to (1) Gain attention. Potentially neat stuff. One more tool to consider to extend rudimentary heuristics like Gagne's 9 Instructional events. Can it hurt?

5 Replies
Steve Flowers

I'm using the day off to run some research for an upcoming conference / workshop. This track has uncovered some real gems. Springboarding off the primary triggers listed above I think there's a natural coupling with what I would call the "call to action" motivators listed here:

The elements / methods listed to incentivize a call to action include:

  • Reciprocation - an exchange in value.
  • Commitment and consistency - tying a commitment to consistent follow through. I think this could work in some cases.
  • Social proof - all my friends / peers are using it / liking it.
  • Liking / notoriety - someone I trust recommended it.
  • Authority - someone I respect / admire is behind it
  • Scarcity - there aren't many left, I'd better act fast.

A good set of principles that can be used to drive action or acquisition of ideas. I'd rather have a learner WANT to DO, BE, or BELIEVE what my course is trying to *sell*. Isn't it much easier on everyone when someone *wants to*?

You really oughta wanna. - Robert Mager

David Anderson

You made a lot of great points Steve. I hadn't seen that video, but saw my wife had recently downloaded the Fascinate audiobook from Audible. I'll load that up today

So much of what we do in corporate learning reminds me of similar tactics I use with my toddler:

Reciprocation - "You can have almond milk after you finish your...."

Social proof, Authority: "See how cousin Bill picks up his toys after playing with them?"

Scarcity: "This is all you get. If you don't eat now, you're going to be hungry later tonight" and so on.

People WANT TO learn things that help them succeed. Tom's blog is a perfect example. We hear from users all the time how they download his posts for informal learning sessions. Last I heard, Tom's blog wasn't part of any organization's mandatory compliance training.

Screenr is another example. Users like Stephanie, Kevin, Joe, Linda, Tracy, Laura, Cyrelle, Brian, Gabriele, create training videos that generate thousands of views. 

When I started here I was given a reference book on copy editing and a couple Seth Godin books. How's that for a WANT TO training program

Steve Flowers

Digging deeper into this book I'm finding some really great nuggets. One of the neat tools she represents as a reference framework is the spectrum of intensity. This spectrum ranges from Avoidance to Compulsion.

  • Avoidance
  • Disinterest
  • Neutrality
  • Mild Affinity
  • Interest
  • Engagement
  • Immersion
  • Preoccupation
  • Obsession
  • Compulsion

The application of intensity as a directional vector is of the reasons I really like this scale. Looking at the scale, I think most of our compliance courses fall into Avoidance. In other course categories we shoot for Engagement, end up with Mild Affinity or Interest at the beginning and quickly fall backwards into Neutrality or Disinterest. It's a neat way to think about engagement as something other than a binary IS or ISN'T.

Steve Flowers

On this same track, I've found a couple of nice articles supporting the practice of persuasive design. I grokked this one this morning thanks to Aaron Silvers:

BJ Fogg at Stanford U looks to have dedicated some time to research and model formulation related to simplicity as a motivator and methods for changing behavior.

This whole thread is tied together in supporting design thinking and it all leads to the psychology of motivation. This is key to increasing engagement that leads to desired behavior change. IMHO, offering generous consideration to the psychology of motivation is a key to success in ISD.