Problem summary

We want to appear consistent with our stated beliefs and prior actions and also value this quality in others

Example

kylerush.net

By breaking the donation process up into sequential steps, the campaign increased donation conversions by 5%, collecting millions of incremental dollars. People like to see themselves as consistent and rational – getting started with the donation amount committed them to finishing what they had started.

Usage

  • Use when the possibility of customers agreeing to your terms up front are unlikely.
  • Use when you want to help change the attitudes and beliefs of your users.

This card is part of the Persuasive Patterns printed card deck

The Persuasive Patterns Card Deck is a collection of 54 design patterns driven by psychology, presented in a manner easily referenced and used as a brainstorming tool.

Get your deck!

Solution

Find ways to make people state their agreement to a decision in order to pave way for similar and larger commitments in the same category, later.

Ask for small commitments or easy agreements to pave the way for bigger commitments later. To get to a more substantial agreement, make it easier for your users to buy in early and small; it will be easier for them to buy in later and larger.

Simple ways of using the Commitment and Consistency principle in web design includes:

  • Add a checkbox to your form with a small action that connects to the behavior your wish to reinforce later. Adding a checkbox saying “YES! I am ready for a better rate today!” increased conversions by 11%1. Takeaway: Ask for a very small commitment upfront.
  • Move the commitment up front. By breaking the donation process up into sequential steps, the Obama campaign increased donation conversions by 5%2, collecting millions of incremental dollars. People like to see themselves as consistent and rational – getting started with the donation amount committed them to finishing what they had started. Takeaway: Break up your “asks” into manageable steps.

Make the commitment positive and personalized. Sart your sentence with “Yes!” and personalize the headline – for example “Yes – I am ready to improve my website’s conversion rate!”

Getting commitments to work

  • Find relevant ways. Look for positive, relevant ways to encourage people to make public, active, and voluntary commitments – and build on those.
  • Small commitments pave the way. Ask for small commitments or easy agreements, to pave the way for even bigger commitments. To get to a more substantial agreement, make it easier for your users to buy in early and small. And it will be easier for them to buy in later and larger.
  • Build momentum. Look for opportunities achieve small wins that demonstrate progress – and the direction of your larger persuasive objective.

Rationale

People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done. People generally want to be seen, as honoring their commitments consistently; as somebody who can be counted on, instead of somebody who flip flops, and is without self-control.

Once we have publicly said out loud, that we use or like a product or that we are going to start doing something, we have a desire to act in a manner consistent with that behavior. If I state that I am going to start running 3 times a week, I have a desire to act consistently with that statement.

Discussion

For commitments to be powerful, they need to be public, be actively followed up by an action, and voluntary. Every time we make a public commitment, we slowly change our attitudes toward that commitment. If we say, we use a product, but have actually only used it a couple of times, we have a tendency to change our behavior toward starting to use the product more, in order to act consistently with our public commitment. That in turn can lead to even more use of the product, which then might invoke another commitment. So it turns out to be this self-fulfilling cycle of larger and larger commitments.

The key is to make people state their position, declare their intentions, or show a small gesture of support. Generally, people will act in a manner consistent with these small requests,
even if later asked to make a much larger, but consistent, commitment.

Getting just a small commitment from your potential customers, like getting them to sign up for your newsletter or liking your page on Facebook, will make them more likely to purchase from you, in the future.

We will go a long way to avoid a strong dissonance, between our words and our actions. If we say we will do a thing, we feel we must, even if following through on our words, is actually irrational.


User Interface Design Patterns