Week 8 — Nonconscious Motivation — Psychology of Persuasion Course Review

Leanne de Araujo
5 min readJan 24, 2021


This week we continued to look at how authority can influence readers of a website and other marketing information. Using an authority such as a famous author, speaker or celebrity to endorse a product of service can help to sell that thing. This can also apply to the uniforms that people wear so that someone wearing a lab coat will be seen more as an authority figure.

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Similar can happen if someone has a title or uses their credentials to sell their services. This is associated with social proof as people with a large following can also have authority. One of the people who sprang to my mind is Marisa Peer, though a different kind of authority are the Kardashians because of their following in media.


This is another of Cialdini’s principles and although I’ve thought of reciprocity as a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’, kind of thing. The presenter for this CXL module, Roger Dooley impresses that the amount of the favour does not have to be the same. This applies in the yoga world where sometimes I’ve needed cover for classes and I’ve tended to ask people who have asked me to cover their classes, or who have been shown to be reliable in the past.

I love that Dooley uses an example from one of my favourite films, “The Godfather” where one of the characters has to ask The Godfather, Don Corleone for a favour and once agreed, Corleone said “I may ask you for a favour one day. Now if you’ve seen this film, you’ll know that this is actually not a good thing.


The Commitment and Consistency Principle

This principle reminds me of a charity sales letter I received last year, which stood out in my mind because it asked for a £50 donation straight off, which would be tricky enough in normal circumstances but in these Covid times even tougher with more people working for less or worse not working at all. Usually, a charity will ask for a small donation and then the amount gets larger.

Cognitive Biases

I loved the cognitive biases module because I feel that I’m not the best at making decisions myself. Even now, I’m thinking about the next course I would like to take because I love learning and I feel spoilt for choice. However, cognitive biases are ways which people make choices either subconsciously or on purpose.

The courtesy bias effect is where people would rather be socially correct than honest, which is not necessarily a bad thing in this case. It can also be confusing as just because we don’t like a product or service that we’ve paid for it doesn’t mean that the customer service will also be bad. I’ve also bought a product where I was required to give feedback on the customer service, but I was in contact with a few different advisors, so it was tricky to give clear feedback.

Loss Aversion

This is a common reason for buying a product and is particularly relevant to some of the membership sites that I’ve seen. I’m aware that Carrie Green of the Female Entrepreneurship Association only opens membership a few times a year. This is similar to the Copywriter Accelerator run by Rob Marsh and Kira Hug, which I’ve just joined to hone my Copywriting business skills further. Free trials are another version of loss such as Netflix. I would describe another good example were the free challenges that I’ve taken part in where you can build rapport with the other people in the group and the course owner knowing that we’ll lose this should we decide to not take up the offer of the paid challenge.

The Ben Franklin Effect

I wanted to include this effect because its not one I had come across before. It is the concept of asking for a favour in the hope that they might give another favour in the future. It comes from the quote by Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography, which is shown below:


Framing Effect

This looks at the context that a product or service is placed in and sold upon. Dooley noted that when negative terms are used it can produce a more powerful effect, so people are more likely to pay attention to the penalties or the “pain points” of not doing something than the “pleasure points” or benefits of doing the same thing.

The Barnum or Forer Effect

I couldn’t not choose this effect as one of my favourite films is the “Greatest Showman” It shows how fortune tellers can be successful by referring to traits that seem to be specific but are actually general. That said one of my favourite personalities is ‘Stargirl the Practical Witch’ whose readings are on point.

BJ Fogg’s Credibility Research

BJ Fogg’s work was covered earlier in the course though this aspect is about credibility when designing a website. It shows how websites should be relevant to the company and that if there are claims that are made they should be verifiable.

Sometimes websites will show links to well known newspapers or companies who have recommended the company. Another brilliant form of credibility is showing awards won and even TEDx talks or professional associations.

Credibility comes in through experience as well, especially when someone can show that they have 10+ years’ experience in an area.


These are a great example of both social proof and credibility though a useful finding is that a site, service product and so on looks more credible if 68% of the reviews are good as opposed to 100% of the reviews. The length of the review also applies. I’m pretty wary of reviews for this reason and I’ve been asked before to give 5* ratings for books written by people I know.

Trust Symbols

Logos are an important part of a business and there are certain images that show more trust. The security symbols are the most obvious examples of this.

The Baymond Institute carried out research in 2013 to demonstrate this. The research shows which logos conveyed trust on a web page and results showed that the most trustworthy badge was Norton’s antivirus seal (35.6%) of participants with McAfee coming in second at (22.9%) looking at these figures are so low especially with the requirement of internet safety. In another study the demographics were looked at more with women preferring Norton antivirus and men preferring the security of Visa. Age wise over 50s were shown to be most favourable of PayPal.

I would have liked to have seen a breakdown of this study by cultural background though at this stage of the course CXL invites experimenters among the learners to submit our own studies for inclusion on the website. This is the kind of study that could be done every few years to see what changes have occurred especially as technology is changing all the time.

Next week in week 9 of the CXL Psychology of Persuasion course I will be looking at building trust, habits, and loyalty and influence and Interactive design.



Leanne de Araujo

Helping Copywriters and Growth Strategists grow their audience through research and content writing.gh research and content writing.