Tip 138 – Why You Shouldn’t Vote in a Fire House

An interesting bit on “priming” as we talked about in the behavioral psychology course…

FWIW—I don’t really get the title of the post.  (And, no, this doesn’t have to do with the fact that I’m married to a firefighter!)  So why shouldn’t you vote in a fire house?  Based on the article, I would think it would be equally as strange to say “Why You Shouldn’t Vote in a Church” or “Why You Shouldn’t Vote in a School.”  I would think that he could have come up with an intriguing title that introduced the notion that there’s a difference in votes based on polling place, without implying that one was better or worse than the other.  But maybe I’m reading WAY too much into this.  J

Have a good weekend!


Sent: Friday, October 03, 2008 9:20 AM
To: Tracy
Subject: Tip 138 – Why You Shouldn’t Vote in a Fire House

Tip 138 – Why You Shouldn’t Vote in a Fire House

“Suspend your prejudice.”

That’s often my first piece of advice for people who want to open up and truly connect with a broader range of people than they have in the past.

Sometimes we give greater weight to our prejudices by calling them our “gut.” A recent study on priming, which I heard about through Internet entrepreneur Auren Hoffman’s blog, reminded me exactly why we should think very carefully about our “gut level” decision-making.

The study, led by an assistant professor of marketing at Wharton, looked at whether where people voted affected how they voted. What he found was that people who voted in a church were more likely to put more weight into social issues while in the ballot box, people who voted in fire houses focused more on safety, and people who voted in schools shifted more attention to education-related issues.

Psychologists call this effect priming. Simply put, as a species we’re incredibly susceptible to suggestion.

Jim Mourey, a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the head of my Greenlight Research Institute, had even more to tell me about priming. In his current research, he primes his subjects by having them read paragraphs with singular or collective pronouns, or view advertisements reinforcing either individualism or collectivism. What he’s found is that when primed by collective pronouns, his subjects become more susceptible to marketing tactics such as product bundling, cross-selling, and up-selling, without being at all aware of it.

So, if the research holds true, load your sales pitch with collective pronouns, emphasizing belongingness and togetherness, and people are statistically more likely to buy bundles of your products in the back of the room. Take that to the bank!

Jim tells me that a colleague of his is studying another type of priming, the letter effect. Apparently because my name is Keith Ferrazzi, I’m more likely to prefer things that begin with a K or an F. Blogger Auren Hoffman mentions this too, in citing a passage from the book The Happiness Hypothesis: “Men named Lawrence and women named Laurie are more likely to become lawyers. Louis and Louise are more likely to move to Louisiana or St. Louis, and George and Georgina are more likely to move to Georgia.”

The point here isn’t that we’re incapable of rational decision-making, just that it’s important that we scrutinize the process carefully. To bring this back to relationships, consider that your attitudes toward any given individual may be “primed” by factors that should be ignored, or at least weighted. Recognizing the effect may help you push past prejudices and give a new person a fair shot at becoming a trusted ally. Want to talk more about priming? Visit the forum.


This week on Greenlight Community:
Is Your Online Identity Authentic?
How’d You Get The Job You Have Now?
Why You Should Give a Jerk a Second Chance

Keith’s Whiteboard Blog:
Steps to a Strong Marketing Plan
Managing Stress

Auren Hoffman’s  Blog

06. October 2008 by Arrian
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