Seeking the Evidence or the Post Decision Journey


The Behavior EffectsThe answer to the often asked question: What really affects behavior? often doesn't fit in a neat chart. We do know that emotion, context and situational factors influence our choices.

    “There is no market for messages,” wrote Doc Searls more than ten years ago, and you may not be able to outspend your competition, you can guide customers in simplifying their learning curve when making decisions.

    You do that by first learning what needs to be affected to move the needle.

    Eaon Pritchard says (emphasis mine):

“[…] the other fundamental to remember is that behaviour shapes attitudes not the other way round. We will almost always modify our attitudes to be consistent with our behaviours.

We post-rationalise our decisions afterwards.

Any given product does not have to be clearly superior in terms of rational features or benefits. Its social value, for instance may be more useful.”

    Your customers are the most vulnerable once they signed on the dotted line and complete the purchase. One of the ways you can help your customers is by providing them with the tools and signals that help confirm they have made the right decision post-purchase

Why do people do what they do?

    In my series of posts on influence, I touched upon specifically why do people do what they do?

    When we start by admitting our individual choices are often the product of either guesswork based upon convenience, recency of similar experience, past history, or, like in the case of the recent election — fewer choices, it's either this, or that — we are more likely to see what is happening with clarity.

    We are also social animals, so we tend to copy what others do.

    This occurs especially when the choice has potentially high consequences — the business buyer with a purchasing budget in the millions will seek consensus from expert colleagues to move forward or we face the choice paradox — so much to choose from, and so little time — I see what he's doing, I'll do that, too.

Social Technologies and Behavior

    Contrary to neat matrix plotting, our human actions can be quite fascinating to predict.

    When you design an experience that helps people do something differently and give them something to record, remember, see that is highly relevant in the context, motivation and opportunity marry.

    What does any of this teach us about the oft-discussed topic of influence triggers?

    If, you're Marc Koska in the example I cited here, and want to help people not get infected with HIV, you figure out a way to make it very easy for them to have access to inexpensive, non-reusable syringes within the context of their health education and support system.

    The lessons from his story and the related discussion on teaching children about how to deal with weight gains through making better health decisions are:

Lesson #1 — there's nothing more attractive than people working on purpose

Lesson #2 — inner motivation can be inspired or magnified by good system design

Lesson #3 — helping people see the behavior or interest of others affects their choices

Lesson #4 — motivation also comes through inspiration, relevance, and education

Lesson #5 — removing obstacles encourages active participation and involvement

Lesson #6 — challenging closely held beliefs, opens up opportunity

Lesson #7 — self-interest is not the same as selfish

    Which means that if you design a system for selfish reasons, to reward individuals upon independent and not interconnected or educated action — what I call the “there's only one cookie and it must be mine” — you will have selfish behavior as a result.

When communication is most effective

“The most effective form of communication is one in which the recipient is already predisposed to believe the information.”

[Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis]

This is why we talk about tribes — groups of people who are already interested in what you have to say because it appeals to the way they see the world.

I refer to the chart below quite often as it reflects fairly broad characteristics of life development stages, which we can observe especially when looking at group behavior.

Age chart

    If this is the age of conversation, it is also an age in which the study of generational habits and demographics for marketing purposes has increased. In Generation Why, I discussed how many studies fail to recognize two main factors that are impacting business:

(1) size matters — populations trends have not been taken into consideration when looking at scaling businesses.

(2) behavior and attitude change with context — technology may have something to do with it.

If the majority of Gen-X (my generation) is undergoing a period of reexamination of the web of relationships that comprise the social whole — with a rejection of those that do not fit the individual identity — every generation is experiencing a return to its core values at the moment.


Behavior is a combination of several factors. They include personal bias, cultural and contextual elements, as well as social signals that act as catalyst of influence. 


Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a speaking engagement click here.