Colleen Szot is one of the most successful infomercial writers in the industry. She recently authored a programme that shattered a 20-year sales record for a home shopping channel simply by changing a few words to the familiar and oft used "call to action". Instead of telling viewers to "call now as operators are waiting," she informed viewers that "if operators are busy please call again."

On the face of it, the change might appear foolhardy. After all, the message seems to suggest that customers might have to waste their time dialling and redialling the number until they finally reach a sales representative. That sceptical view, however, ignores the powerful pull of social proof. People will often look to others around them to decide what to think and how to behave. What's especially interesting about social proof is that when you ask someone if other people's behaviour influences their own they will often insist that it does not. But social psychologists know that people's ability to identify the factors that affect their behaviour is surprisingly poor. Take, for example, a study conducted by my two co-authors Dr Robert Cialdini and Dr Noah Goldstein and their colleagues.

Surveying over 800 householders, they asked people what motivated them to make energy efficiencies in their home. Most people said they that did it because they were environmentally friendly and that they wanted to do their bit to benefit society. Very few mentioned that they made energy savings because they saw their neighbours doing the same. Interesting then, that the study found that it was exactly this fact that motivated them. People were more likely to make energy efficiencies when they saw their neighbours were making efficiencies. Exactly the same reason why so many people continued to call Colleen Szot's free-phone number. After all, if the lines are busy then lots of other people like me are calling too.

"The science of persuasion: The behaviour of others is a powerful motivating force. If harnessed correctly it could help us to become more socially responsible," by Steve Martin. Comment is free. December 9, 2007.

Speaking of being "more socially responsible," be the first to give and watch others follow. Do others need to be before you even when it comes to doing that for which Jesus is still calling?

Therefore, Enter the Labor of Real Love

Help the movement of bringing forth. Give to the Christian Commons Project to further this message and to translate the money out of its evil system. Continue down this column to below the comment section to the section entitled, "The Righteous Appeal to Softening Hearts," and please help with what you are able. Consider tithing or better. You will be a part of bringing forth, as Jesus still calls upon his followers to do. If you can do it, it isn't too late to matter.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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