Coach's Casebook

The 5 Major Axes of Persuasion

The 5 Major Axes of Persuasion

In Dutton’s book Flipnosis: The Art of Split-Second Persuasion, there’s a full discussion of what he terms the 5 Major Axes of Persuasion
1. Simplicity
2. Perceived self-interest
3. Incongruity in the mapping of attention
4. Confidence
5. Empathy
This can be remembered by the mnemonic devise SPICE
1. SIMPLICITY – We have discussed the issue of mental shortcuts in a previous blog and a related issue to minimising the cognitive processing overhead is the brain’s predilection for simplicity…Simple is good and complex is bad.  We can hear the concept in our language in phrases such as ‘a picture paints a thousand words’  and ‘the bottom line is…’
Consider the case of a personnel form that has a tick against career choice.  The tick sits between ‘Bank Manager’ and ‘Basket Ball Player’.  Reading earlier in the form you can see the man has put his height in the box a 6 foot 7 inches.
What is his likely career?
Most people would say Basket Ball Player because the simple assessment is that Basket Ball Players are tall so this man, being tall, must be a basket ball player.  But on the balance of probabilities, there a probably more 6 foot 8 Inch tall Bank Managers than there are Basket Ball Players of a similar height, purely because there are more bank managers than professional Basket Ball Players.
But the simple answer was selected over the correct answer because it may intuitive (simple) sense.
2. PERCEIVED SELF INTEREST – One of the strongest human needs is to be better off than we are…Self interest then is a strong motivating factor that often leads people to be easily influenced.  it is one of the reasons for the success of a recent spate of internet scams where a person is contacted by an agent from a foreign country with the offer of riches from a distant relative if they can just pay the administration fee…and then bribe and official…and then pay an agent…and then…and then…The scam draws on a person’s greed and the perception that a small outlay will lead to greater riches. 
3. INCONGRUITY – By rapidly shifting the focus of the mind, you open up a cognitive pathway that can lead in the direction you want it to go.  A sudden significant incongruity rapidly increases the cognitive processing of the higher brain leaving less capacity and so the lower, more emotional (amydala) part of the brain takes over and is more easily persuaded.
Have you ever found yourself dealing with too many things and suddenly making a poor decision.  By putting the listener’s higher brain under pressure you can become more persuasive and generate a state change in that person that is conducive to your influence.
4. CONFIDENCE – Studies by Paul Zarnoth have revealed that test responses for groups of people had patterns of results that showed consistency in answers even if the result was actually wrong.  The more confident people in the group has influenced other in the group to agree with their result even if it was incorrect. Confidence it appears persuades.
Haven’t you been swayed by a confident politician or professional? Use confidence in your approach to assist your own persuasion strategy.
5. EMPATHY – We tend to like people that are like us…Our friends often have similar interests, similar values and beliefs and we tend to agree with much of what they say.  So mapping your values, beliefs and behaviours in some way to the person you want to influence you increase your rapport with that person and can become more effective at influencing them.
Dutton offers a simple case study that highlights how all of the factors of SPICE are drawn together to influence someone in a very very dramatic and effective manner.
The CIA has been struggling to make any advances in the building of relationships with some of the key warlord in Afghanistan. That was until someone realised that many of the warlords were of advancing years but still had as many as a dozen wives to attend to. In response to this he ‘war on terror’ was supported by a little box of Blue Pills…called Viagra.
Shortly after when the CIA team arrived again they where welcomed with open arms and great hospitality as the head warlord pronounced that the agents where great men and allowed them to do whatever they wanted in his territory.
Simplicity, Perceived Self Interest, Incongruity, Confidence and Empathy all came to bear on this very successful act of persuasion under very challenging conditions.
How can you exploit the SPICE factors to improve your influence and persuasion?
Dare to Aspire


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar