Today and every day, we are the targets of advertisers, fundraisers and politicians trying to persuade us to buy something, do something or think a certain way. And they’re good at it.
Over the years, they’ve learned a lot about which features to build into a communication and which psychological strings to pull at to *elevate its success. But by concentrating so intently on the message itself, they’ve missed a crucial component of the process.
Research done in the last 15 years shows that *optimal persuasion is achieved through optimal pre-suasion–the practice of arranging for people to agree with a message before they even know what’s in it.
过去15年间所做的研究表明，最佳的说服靠的是最佳的先发影响力 —— 在人们还不知道信息内容之前，就让他们对这些内容表示赞同。
Pre-suasion works by focusing people’s attention on a selected concept, which in turn *spurs them to overvalue it over related ones. In one study, visitors to an online sofa store were greeted with images of either soft clouds or small coins in the background of its landing page. Those who saw the clouds were more likely to prefer soft, comfortable sofas for purchase whereas those who saw the money preferred cheaper models.
Long before scientists started studying the process of pre-suasion, a few notable communicators already had an *intuitive understanding of it.
For example, in 1588, thousands of British troops, who were gathered against a sea invasion by Spain at Tilbury in the UK, were deeply concerned that their leader Queen Elizabeth I, as a woman, would not be up to the *rigors of battle. In addressing the men, she dispelled their fears pre-*suasively – first acknowledging their concern by admitting a weakness, which established her honesty for whatever she said next, and then following it with a strength that *demolished this perceived weakness. “I know,” she asserted, “I have the body of a weak and *feeble woman. But I have the heart of a king, and a king of England, too.”
例如，1588年，成千上万名英国士兵集结于英国蒂尔伯里，对抗西班牙的海上入侵。士兵们都十分担心，他们的女王伊丽莎白一世，作为女性无法承受战争的艰苦。但在伊丽莎白一世对士兵们的演讲中，她令人信服地提前消除了他们的担忧 —— 她首先向士兵们承认了自己的弱势，这也为她接下来所要说的话建立起了信誉。随后她以一种坚强的意志摧毁了这一明显的弱势。“我知道，”她称道，“我有着女人的瘦弱躯体，但我也有一颗君主的心，英王的心。”
It’s reported that so long and loud were the cheers after this *pronouncement that officers had to ride among the soldiers ordering them to restrain themselves so the queen could continue.
The same pre-suasive, honesty-establishing tactic was employed in the late 1950s by the advertising firm Doyle Dane Bernbach to introduce the oddly shaped Volkswagen Beetle. The “We’re ugly but...” campaign tactically admitted to *cosmetic limitations before *trumpeting the auto’s strengths such as economy, reliability and simplicity. Credited with cracking open the US market for compact cars, the ad campaign has been rated among the greatest of all time.
With considerable success, *practitioners of social influence have always featured persuasive prods–glowing testimonials, emotional *tugs, last-chance opportunities – in their appeals. Perhaps because of that success, they’ve mostly missed an accompanying truth. For maximum impact, it’s not only what you do; it’s also what you do just before you do what you do.