Power of Because | Psychology for Marketers

The power of “Because”

Giving a reason for your request can increase compliance from 60% to 90%.

In the classic study covered in Harvard Magazine on how people respond to language, psychologists Langer, Chanowitz, and Blank found that adding a reason to your request can almost double your success rate.

In the late 1970s, the researchers organised an experiment to test different variations of framing a request to make photocopies.

When asked without giving a reason, they got successful at cutting line in 60% of times. When added a reason – it jumped to over 90%.
Interestingly, it did not matter what kind of reason was given. As long as the question fitted the familiar framework (request – because – reason), the compliance rate was at its highest. All it took to increase the conversion rate was adding because.

Here are the results of the study to show just how powerful the word because can be:

The power of because - Psychology for Marketers

A variation of the experiment followed to test if the same will occur when the request is bigger.

This time participants asked for 20 copies (instead of initial 5). As before, adding a reason to their request increased the chances of compliance, however, the type of a reason started to matter. The simple framework stopped working. Bigger request triggered more profound processing of a request. This time people were listening to and making sense of the whole question. Senseless reason did not increase the conversion rate, only a reasonable one did.

Below results of the study:

The power of because - Psychology for Marketers


There are 2 main findings from these experiments:

1. Always give a reason for your request.
2. If the request is small, you can use any reason. When the request is big, the reason needs to make sense.

How to use this knowledge for your business:

1. Always give a reason. Human brain is wired to react when it hears because. It is a magical word. It is an automatic trigger for compliance, and in many cases a person stops paying attention to what comes after they hear because.

2. If you make a special offer/discount or give something for free – say why. Otherwise your audience might be suspicious and not believe in your offer (they may expect there is some catch).

3. If you cannot do something that your client wants or expects from you or your company – explaining why will make them more understanding and accepting. It’s a great tool to keep clients satisfied over a longer period of time.

4. In case of any delays and/or faults int he product – stating why that happened will help you get the client to understand, be less critical. This, in result, will limit refunds and will help maintain loyalty.

5. Share your mission – add what is the bigger reason why you do what you do. Doing so will make people feel like they are contributing to that mission and doing more for the greater good.

Have you observed the power of because in your marketing message? Do you have more advice for the community? Share your thoughts and stories below.

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