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One Trick To Persuade Nearly Everyone: Don’t Be Too Creative

One Trick To Persuade Nearly Everyone: Don’t Be Too Creative

Have you ever thought that you’d be more successful if only you were more creative? Most of us believe that being as creative as possible will yield the best results, but there’s actually lots of evidence to the contrary.

Studies have shown that proposals that show too much creativity often fail, and that humans are drawn to what’s familiar to them. There are many ways we can use these insights to be more successful, and we’ll explore these below.

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Ideas that are too novel aren’t successful.

In 2014, researchers from Harvard and Northeastern University set out to find out how important novelty is when submitting funding proposals. Surely, the most creative proposals would be the most successful? Surprisingly, this wasn’t the case.[1]

150 proposals were prepared, and each was rated according to how novel it was. The proposals were then evaluated by a team of scientists, who gave a score to each. The proposals that were the most novel and creative received the lowest scores overall. Up next were the safe, familiar proposals, which scored only slightly higher. The proposals which received the best scores were those considered ‘slightly new’ – not too novel, but also not completely familiar.

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This study demonstrates how important it is to get the right balance between familiarity and newness. It’s not enough to simply come up with the most creative idea you can – you also need to make sure that it contains some familiarity. For example, when pitching a new business idea, try comparing it to existing services, saying, “It’s like McDonalds, but healthy,” or, “It’s eBay for bikes.” This approach makes your proposal easier to understand and less threatening. If an idea is so new that it’s hard to understand and explain, it’s unlikely to be successful.

Humans crave familiarity.

In the 1960s, a psychologist named Robert Zajonc conducted experiments which proved the human preference for familiarity. He showed subjects a variety of images, shapes and characters, and asked them to rate which they liked best. The images which were familiar to the subjects consistently received the highest ratings, while images which they had not been shown before were rated poorly. This shows that we are naturally inclined to like what we know, regardless of whether or not it’s actually better.

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This is described at the ‘mere-exposure effect’ and is often used in advertising. By showing consumers the same advert over and over again, the chance of them liking it and buying the product shown is increased. The same theory can be applied to many areas of life – music, art, cinema, and even people.

By bearing in mind that most humans crave familiarity, you can be more successful in many areas of life, including work, creative projects and relationships. You could pitch a novel idea to a familiar problem at work, paint a familiar scene using new materials, or suggest trying a new variety of your partner’s favorite cuisine for dinner.

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A combination of surprising and familiar works best.

Raymond Loewy, one of the most successful industrial designers of all time, knew all about getting the right balance between surprising and familiar. He developed a design principle called MAYA, which stands for ‘Most Advanced Yet Acceptable.’ and refers to the practice of creating designs that are as advanced as possible without being so new and unusual that they aren’t accepted by consumers. The MAYA principle can be used to explain why high-tech products, like the recent Google Glasses, can fail. While consumers are used to devices like phones and tablets, making the leap to a wearable device could feel too unfamiliar and strange.

Next time you’re pushing yourself to be more creative, stop. Think instead about how you could put a creative twist on a familiar idea. You’ll see better results, and won’t suffer the disappointment of your most creative endeavors being unsuccessful.

Reference

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Eloise Best

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Last Updated on December 16, 2018

12 Simple Ways You Can Build A Positive Attitude

12 Simple Ways You Can Build A Positive Attitude

We all look for a better and happier life, but somehow we realize it’s our attitude that makes it hard to lead the life we want. How can we build a positive attitude? Grant Mathews has listed out the things (from the easiest to the hardest) we can do to cultivate this attitude on Quora:

1. Listen to good music.

Music definitely improves your mood, and it’s a really simple thing to do.

2. Don’t watch television passively.

Studies have shown that people who watch TV less are happier, which leads me to my next point…

3. Don’t do anything passively.

Whenever I do something, I like to ask myself if, at the end of the day, I would be content saying that I had spent time doing it. (This is why I block sites I find myself wasting too much time on. I enjoy them, but they’re just not worth it when I could be learning something new, or working on projects I care about.)

Time is incredibly valuable.

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4. Be aware of negativity

A community that considers itself intelligent tends to be negativity because criticizing is seen as a signaling mechanism to indicate that you’re more intelligent than the person you corrected. This was irrationally frustrating for me – it’s one of those things you’ll stay up all night to think about.

5. Make time to be alone.

I initially said “take time just to be alone.” I changed it because if you don’t ensure you can take a break, you’ll surely be interrupted.

Being with other people is something you can do to make you happy, but I don’t include it in this list because nearly everyone finds time to talk with friends. On the other hand, spending time just with yourself is almost considered a taboo.

Take some time to figure out who you are.

6. Exercise.

This is the best way to improve your immediate happiness.

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Exercise probably makes you happy. Try and go on a run. You’ll hate yourself while doing it, but the gratification that you get towards the end vastly outweighs the frustration of the first few attempts. I can’t say enough good things about exercise.

Exercising is also fantastic because it gives you time alone.

7. Have projects.

Having a goal, and moving towards it, is a key to happiness.

You have to realize though that achieving the goal is not necessarily what makes you happy – it’s the process. When I write music, I write it because writing is inherently enjoyable, not because I want to get popular (as if!).

8. Take time to do the things you enjoy.

That’s very general, so let me give you a good example.

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One of the things that has really changed my life was finding small communities centered around activities I enjoy. For instance, I like writing music, so I’m part of a community that meets up to write a song for an hour every week. I love the community. I’ve also written a song every week, 37 weeks in a row, which has gradually moved me towards larger goals and makes me feel very satisfied.

9. Change your definition of happiness.

Another reason I think I’m more happy than other people is because my definition of happiness is a lot more relaxed than most people’s. I don’t seek for some sort of constant euphoria; I don’t think it’s possible to live like that. My happiness is closer to stability.

10. Ignore things that don’t make you happy.

I get varying reactions to this one.

The argument goes “if something is making you unhappy, then you should find out why and improve it, not ignore it.” If you can do that, great. But on the other hand, there’s no reason to mope about a bad score on a test.

There’s another counterargument: perhaps you’re moping because your brain is trying to work out how to improve. In fact, this is the key purpose of depression: Depression’s Upside – NYTimes.com

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I can think of examples that go both ways. I remember, for instance, when I was debating a year or two ago and my partner and I would lose a round, I would mull over what we had done wrong for a long time. In that way, I got immensely better at debate (and public speaking in general – did you know debate has amazing effects on your public speaking ability? But now I really digress).

On the other hand, there’s no way that mulling over how dumb you were for missing that +x term on the left hand side will make you better at math. So stop worrying about it, and go practice math instead.

11. Find a way to measure your progress, and then measure it.

Video games are addictive for a reason: filling up an experience bar and making it to the next level is immensely satisfying. I think that it would be really cool if we could apply this concept to the real world.

I put this near the bottom of the list because, unfortunately, this hasn’t been done too often in the real world – startup idea, anyone? So you would have to do it yourself, which is difficult when you don’t even know how much you’ve progressed.

For a while, I kept a log of the runs I had taken, and my average speed. It was really cool to see my improvement over the weeks. (Also, I was exercising. Combining the two was fantastic for boosting happiness.)

12. Realize that happiness is an evolutionary reward, not an objective truth.

It’s easy to see that this is correct, but this is at the bottom of the list for a reason.

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