Monday, October 25, 2004

Persuasion revisited

Funny, I just discovered Monkeymagic last week through some process I have utterly forgotten, but Piers Young's double-whammy posts of Sparklines and The Sting in the Tail made me add him to my "keep checking for good stuff" feed. Funny, I say because a few days later, he was kind enough to point to my first attempt at a worthwhile post and expanded my brief mention of Robert Cialdini's article.
We might need just-in-time relationship reminders too. It's not natural for us to see commonality, and as a result our reliance on neutral disinterested "facts" may rule out our noticing relationships.
This very accurately describes the dilemma that parents of children with learning problems face in every aspect of their lives. They are driven to find information to help their child (how does my child's brain work, what programs work best, what laws apply) to the point that sometimes they forget relationships with teachers, spouses and other parents. I already strive to inject a human touch in the work I do online because I think it has a positive influence on behavior. All too often have I seen the bad effects when people forget they are interacting with another person online. Once the other becomes an object, there is an expectation of control which will be frustrated and the reaction is usually an attempt to force control by virtually "killing" the other via flame wars, player killing, denial of service attacks or other stunts. Word by word, bit by bit, I'd like to mitigate as much of that as possible that before it happens.

To that end, Piers also points out that Cialdini wrote a Scientific American article on persuasion that calls out "six basic tendencies of human behavior [that] come into play in generating a positive response: reciprocation, consistency, social validation, liking, authority and scarcity." Piers applied these to blogs, and I am seeing ways to apply this to a variety of on and offline communites -- message boards, chat, virtual worlds, schools and civic engagement.

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