The More Uncertain You Are, The More You Dig In Your Heels

Susan Weinschenk from

I went to dinner with a colleague who was showing me his Android phone. He loves his new Android phone and wanted to show me all the great ways it was as good as, or better than, my iPhone. I was totally uninterested in hearing about it. I didn’t even want to look at it. Basically, I didn’t want to allow into my brain any information that would conflict with my opinion that anything besides an iPhone was even a possibility. I was showing classical symptoms of cognitive dissonance denial… Gal and Rucker recently conducted research where they used framing techniques to make people feel uncertain. (For example, they told one group to remember a time when they were full of certainty, and the other group to remember a time when they were full of doubt). They they asked the participants whether they were meat-eaters, vegetarians, vegans, etc, how important this was to them, and how confident they were in their opinions. People who were asked to remember times when they were uncertain, were less confident of their eating choices. However, when asked to write up their beliefs to persuade someone else to eat the way they did, they would write more and stronger arguments than the group that were certain of their choice. They performed the research with different topics (for example the MAC/PC distinction) and found similar results. When people were less certain, then they would dig in and argue even harder. I’m still trying to digest this latest research. What does this mean? If we want someone to be loyal and to be an advocate then we should actually give them a reason to be uncertain about the product?

I’ve always been a fan of interesting research that makes you dig a little for an application.

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