How to Influence Behavior Without Feeling Gross


WATCH: Dr. Chris on UNLOCKED With Tracy Wilson E174

Influencing the behavior of others (e.g., consumers’ purchase behavior) is often very challenging, but it doesn’t have to be manipulative or feel gross to be effective. In this insight-driven conversation with Tracy Wilson, Chris discusses the psychology of influencing others and provides practical advice for creating win-win scenarios that will help you influence consumer behavior without resorting to trickery or coercion that often only leads to resistance, anger or, worse yet, avoidance. Because we all want to be effective, but no one wants to feel gross.

A few highlights from the video:

We can obviously say that the way people shopped in ancient Roman times and the way we shop today are vastly different. In fact, the way that we shopped five years ago versus today is often vastly different. But the underlying psychology is much more stable. And I think it’s important for people to know this because it gives us an anchor. It gives us a foundation to work from so that we can anticipate changes. And we can respond to them very quickly because we know that when a change is happening in behavior, we can go back to the foundation of what is it they’re trying to accomplish. And [we can ask ourselves], “How can I help them do it faster, easier, less expensively, or more enjoyably so that I’m creating a solution that will connect with them and they’ll want it?”


“Emotional responses are inevitable. We as human beings, we’re wired to respond to things emotionally and we respond to them extremely quickly. We can respond emotionally to a situation multitudes of times faster than we can process it cognitively … Your customer is going to engage emotionally, with your brand, product, or advertising one way or the other. It’s just a matter of how strategic you’re going to be about it. Are you just going to leave it to chance? Or are you going to be strategic about the emotion that [you] want to be connected to?”


“This idea that consumer lies are somehow damaging or don’t do us any good, I think is really missing the point and taking things too literally … [When consumers say one thing and do another] that is gold because what they have just let you in on is where they feel like they’re falling short, and where they need help. And so I instantly have an avenue to how I can start adding value for this person.”