Emphasize general similarities

People don’t like to change opinions and will ignore counterfactual information. Instead, give them information that shows how similar your desired position is to their current opinion.

Examples

Principles

We have a tendency to search out and interpret information in a way that confirms our current beliefs. After we find sufficient information, we stop. We don’t tend to seek out information that might prove us wrong. This is known as confirmation bias.

Clever sites that need to sell people on an idea that involves making them change their minds do it by giving users selective information that confirms their preconceptions while also supporting the concepts that the site wants to get across.

How to use this pattern

  • Don’t try to persuade people that they should change. Instead, show them how they are already doing elements of what you want them to do.
  • Emphasize the positive and the similar elements rather than requiring them to think about the negative and the unfamiliar aspects.
  • Talk in general terms that can be interpreted positively by any user. (family values is a positive term to everyone who hears it, regardless of how they interpret it.)
  • Talk about aspirations. “Yes, I do want to lose weight/find a partner/make tons of money/…”—people feel motivated to achieve their aspirations even if they never actually work toward them.

Blog posts about this pattern