Will you read this article? According to the research, if you got as far as reading that question, the answer is more likely to be, “yes.”
The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that asking someone a question about a behavior made much more of an impact than telling someone what to do.
Just asking someone a question about a behavior increases the likelihood that they’ll do it.
It’s called the question-behavior effect. According to lead researcher, Eric Spangenberg, the question-behavior effect is most notable when the question encourages behaviors that are already socially celebrated. For example, will you try to eat healthy? Will you exercise today?
Exactly why questions are more effective than statements remains unknown, but it probably has to do with the mindset of the answerer. If someone tells you, “you should volunteer for this charity” you are more likely to bristle at being told what to do, rejecting the authority and advice of an outside opinion.
But when asked, “will you make a donation?” even if you don’t answer right away, you become more open-minded to the possibility.
Your options become expansive, rather than set, which makes you feel empowered and self-confident that you can make a positive decision for yourself.
The study also found that the effect was strongest when questions were administered through a computer or on paper, rather than orally, and when the question called for a direct “yes” or “no” answer. Perhaps having to type out or write down an answer made people feel more accountable to following through with the behavior.
Could you use the question-behavior effect to improve your business? (You see what I did there?) Asking an employee, “will we see your report in time for the deadline?” may just increase the chances that you will. And perhaps asking if your customer wants to purchase your product will put them in an open-minded state to say yes.