The power of social proof

Don’t panic this isn’t a party political broadcast.Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 08.48.41

I’m a member of the Labour Party. I joined over 20 years ago and stand every year in the local elections in an unwinnable seat.

To me the Labour Party stands for equality, compassion and social justice. I may not agree with everything and when that happens my responsibility is to argue my point within the party.

You’re now either with me or think I’m a delusional fool; politics rarely conjures up neutral positions and this dynamic and productive conflict is one of the reasons I love it.

But why am I writing about this now in my role as a communication consultant?

You’ve probably noticed there’s an election going on. Campaigning costs, so the Labour Party is sending almost daily emails to members asking for donations.

And they’re excellent. They get the job done.

I have a monthly standing order to my constituency party, another for the national party and I made a donation earlier in the year. I thought I’d done my bit. But I still clicked on the link and donated.


The emails use positive social proof.

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people follow the behaviour of others so they do the ‘right thing’ in a given situation.

Positive social proof encourages the behaviour you want and negative encourages the opposite.

Visitors were picking pieces of wood from the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona as souvenirs. The authorities wanted them to stop so they put up a sign telling people their heritage was being vandalized every day by the theft of wood, mostly a small piece at a time. The thefts tripled*!

The emails from the Labour Party told me about the 11,000 plus people just like me who have donated in the last two weeks. Before I really knew it I was clicking on the link.

* Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert B. Cialdini.

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By Cathy Connan

I'm an integrative psychotherapist. I help people invest in their wellbeing and live the life they want.