The word “because” is such a powerful word because it provides an explanation or a reason for something. When it comes to persuasion, giving people a reason to do something or make a certain decision can be highly effective. This is because people naturally resist change and will often continue doing what they usually do unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.
The Impact of “Because”: Insights from a Study
A well-known study conducted by Harvard psychology professor Ellen Langer in 1978 demonstrates the power of “because.” Participants were asked to make a request to people waiting in line at a busy college campus copy center. The results showed that using the word “because” and providing a reason significantly increased the likelihood of a positive response.
For example, when participants asked “May I use the Xerox machine?” only 60% responded positively. However, when participants asked “May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?” or “May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” the positive response rate increased to 93% and 94% respectively.
The Persuasive Capability of “Because”
The study reveals that the actual reason provided may not even be that important. Simply using the word “because” and giving any reason at all can have a persuasive effect. However, it’s crucial to note that providing a compelling reason will yield stronger results. In persuasive writing, using “because” as a connector to explain why is useful. For example, “Give to XYZ because…” or “I need your help with XYZ today because…”. By giving a reason after “because,” you provide a rationale for your request or statement.
Strengthening Your Reason for a More Compelling Message
To make your reason more compelling, it is essential to emphasize the benefits. For instance, instead of saying, “I hope you’ll give as generously as you can,” you can say, “I hope you’ll give as generously as you can because these children are counting on you.” This statement highlights the positive impact of the reader’s contribution and increases the likelihood of a positive response. You can further strengthen your argument by emphasizing additional benefits and personal connections, creating a more persuasive and impactful message.
In summary, the word “because” is a powerful tool for persuasion because it provides a reason or explanation for a request or statement. It can overcome people’s resistance to change and increase the likelihood of a positive response. By using “because” and giving a compelling reason with clear benefits, you can create persuasive messages that resonate with your audience and influence their decision-making process.