Positive priming to get started

Priming is a phenomenon where being exposed to a certain stimuli makes a particular response to a second stimuli more likely to happen. Positive priming is a term which has come to mean using priming to our advantage. In my case, I use it to refer to ‘kick starts’.

In their excellent book, Profit from the Positive, Margaret Greenberg and Senia Maymin, refer to a study where two groups of car wash customers were given two different sets of loyalty cards. In one group the loyaly card had spaces for 8 stamps: purchase 8 washes and get the next one free. The second group got a loyalty card with speces for 10 stamps but the first 2 stamps already filled out.

In other words, both groups needed 8 paid visits to get their next visit free.

But what happened was quite staggering. After nine months, 19% of the first group completed all 8 stamps to get their free wash. But in the second group, 32 % completed the remaining 8 stamps and got their free wash. In this case the stamps already filled out acted as the stimuli.

People persisted more when the task had been started for them, even when it’s done somewhat artificially.

What task can you start tonight to make tomorrow more productive? Can you start completing some paperwork or begin some filing. Maybe put the filing into sensible piles ready for the next day.

How can you help your colleagues or staff start a challenge?