I entered a scientific career for the purest of reasons: To pursue knowledge for its own sake. Like many of the self-righteous hipster intellectuals of my generation, I had a hostile attitude toward the word “popular” (Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow were way more popular than the Seeds and the Velvet Underground, but way less cool).
But now, after decades hiding away in the ivory tower doing pure science, I want to sell out. My students and I have generated dozens of great scientific findings, cool discoveries that shine new lights on topics from homicidal fantasies and one-night stands to economic decision-making and religious beliefs.
Before I retire to a cabin in the woods, I want to spread the word about those findings to as many people as possible, not just to other academics in Research I universities, and to the tiny class of researchers who readPsychological Review, but also to the people who read the New York Times, the LA Times, and even the New York Post.
If you’re going to sell out, though, you want to do it in style, to be a high priced escort rather than a streetwalker. You write a book, you want to see it on the New York Timesbest-seller list; you write a blog, you want it to go viral.
Here Is The list :-
1. Social Currency
As Berger notes:We share information that makes us look good. It helps us look good if that info is scarce or secret. It’s great to be the first person on the block to possess that critical new knowledge or cool new product.
Berger describes a hidden bar in New York that you can only enter through a telephone booth in a hot dog restaurant, and then only if you know which number to dial (the bar is even called Please Don’t Tell, though they give you a card as you leave, hoping you will do what everyone else does with “secrets”).
In Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life, I introduce my research on homicidal fantasies and selective memory by sharing a few secrets about myself, including a murderous fantasy and a ménage a trois. But if you read the book, please don’t tell.
Berger here notes that information on the top of your mind is more likely to make it to the tip of your tongue.That accounts for the surprising fact that Cheerios gets more online discussion than Disneyland – Cheerios are primed every day at breakfast, Disneyland only comes to mind when people are thinking about vacations.
The power of association is immense, though sometimes invisible; Berger also observes how people whose voting booths are located in schools are more likely to fund education bills, for example. One ad campaign cleverly magnified its use of triggers, by switching a beer ad’s jingle from: “Holidays are made for Michelob!” to “Weekends are made for Michelob!”
So over the next couple of months, I will need to come up with a jingle like “The Rational Animal: Don’t think about money, food, or family without it!”
When we care, we share. Are people more likely to share ideas, articles, or web pages that evoke positive emotions like love and awe or negative emotions like angeror sadness? If you guessed positive emotions, you were partly right. It’s why we made up a happy little music video, complete with amusing animations, to describe the main ideas in “The Rational Animal.”
On the negative side, people don’t share things that make them sad. But oddly, they do share things that make them angry. Why? Berger’s research suggests that arousal is the key: Anger and happiness are both stimulating. Indeed, when I look at the links my friends are sharing on Facebook, there are as many links to truly annoying news as to comical jokes.
So, how about: “Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life: It may make you laugh, it may make you mad, but it will not help you get to sleep!”
Berger’s line here is:Built to show, built to grow. Think about the luminescent Apple symbol on your MacIntosh, or those Ralph Lauren ponies and Izod alligators you’re wearing all over town, turning you into a walking billboard. I wonder if my publisher will cough up for logo t-shirts, and get Jennifer Lopez to wear one to next year’s Grammy awards?
5. Ractical Value
News you can use. Berger found that the most shared articles in the New York Times dealt with practically relevant topics like food (recipes, new restaurant reviews), health (which vegetables will make you healthier after eating in that new French restaurant), and education (what your kid should be learning at school).
Berger quotes William Buckley, who was asked what he would take along to read if he were marooned on a desert island, and answered: “A book on shipbuilding.” The practicality principle explains why so many people read books like “Yes! 50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive” “Made to Stick” and “Influence.”
And it makes me glad that Vlad Griskevicius and I included a Cialdini-styled chapter in our new book — describing how to watch out so that your Deeply Rational decision-making biases, which worked well for your ancestors, don’t get parasitized by well-dressed and friendly-looking compliance professionals in the modern world.
Berger’s catch phrase here is:Information travels under the guise of idle chatter. People love to share stories, like the one about the guy who went from obese to slender by eating nothing but Subway sandwiches. My colleague Bob Cialdini has an even better spin on this principle, which is that people love their stories in the form of mysteries.
Why, for example, do people like M.C. Hammer, who go from rags to riches, so often turn around and go back from riches to rags? What made so many wealthy people buy into Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme, when it seemed so obviously “too good to be true?”
Stay tuned, or, better yet, be the first on your block to buy our forthcoming book, and find out before your neighbors do!
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