What motivates someone to share their opinion? How can you influence them to try to persuade others? A recent article from Stanford Graduate School of Business titled “Where Do Advocates Come From?” cites a range of research into advocacy. Professor S. Christian Wheeler and PhD graduate Omair Akhatar coauthored a study which found that you can persuade people with fixed attitudes to advocate by positioning it as an opportunity to stand up for their views, rather than as one to engage in dialogue. And for people that believe attitudes can change, the opposite is true.
Another cited study showed that those who are uncertain are more likely advocates than those who are moderately certain! Titled “the Curvilinear Relationship Between Attitude Certainly and Attitudinal Advocacy by Lauren Cheatham and Zakary Tormala confirms what we often see, those that are very certain on a topic are more likely to be advocates than others. Their surprising study shows advocacy has a J curve, peaking with those highly certain, lowest for those of moderate certainty, and rising again for those with low certainty. They found people with low certainty do share their views, they often want to gather further information, and are open for discussion. Someone highly certain can come across as judgmental, not so those in the low certainty category.
Interesting thoughts. We need to take time to frame our discussions and messages appropriately and not overlook those advocates that still have questions. Science can help us be more effective. What do you think of these conclusions?