If You Want to Perasuade, Say It Again and Again

If you want to get people to buy into your ideas, just say them over and over. That’s the conclusion of Stephen Garcia, PhD, of the University of Michigan, Gerald R.Ford School of Public Policy.

In a study, Garcia found that when one person expresses an opinion repeatedly the effect is the same as several people lobbying the point. Repetition evokes a sense of familiarity, making it seem that convictions are widely shared, says Garcia.

“What we think others think greatly influences our own personal thoughts, feelings and behavior,” Garcia says.  “An opinion is likely to be more widely shared the more different people express it. But surprisingly, hearing one person express an opinion repeatedly also leads to the conclusion that the opinion is more widespread relative to hearing the same opinion expressed only once.”

In a study published in The Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, Garcia and other researchers at the University of Michigan, Stanford University, and Virginia Tech had about 1,000 students read fake opinions on various subjects.  The studies found that an opinion is more likely to be assumed to be the majority opinion when multiple group members express their opinion. However, they also showed that hearing just one person express the same opinion multiple times had nearly the same effect on a listener’s perception of the opinion being popular as hearing multiple people state the same opinion.

So what’s the lesson? If you want people to buy into your ideas, one key is simply to repeat the idea multiple times.


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