No, please, say it ain’t so!
Could the drink of the morning Gods really make you more likely to fall under the spell of others? The answer is a definitive…YUP!
In a fascinating bit of research on the effects of caffeine on persuasion, a team from the University of Queensland, Australia gave study participants orange juice that was either spiked with caffeine or just plain old juice. The spiked juice had about as much caffeine as you’d find in two cups of coffee.
The participants were then presented with a number of messages that argued positions on controversial issues, like abortion and euthanasia. The quality of the arguments were intentionally varied, some being strongly persuasive and well reasoned, others less so.
So, who was more easily persuaded?
You’d think that the people doped up on caffeine would’ve been more alert and less susceptible to persuasion, but it turns out, the exact opposite was true.
As the researchers revealed:
Caffeine is known to increase arousal, attention, and information processing–all factors implicated in facilitating persuasion….[the] results show that caffeine can increase the extent to which people systematically process and are influenced by a persuasive communication.
The caffeine-heads were 35% MORE likely to be persuaded to agree with one of the positions presented than those who were just running on juice.
Does that mean we should serve double espresso to our adversaries before every negotiation?
Not so fast. The research also revealed that caffeine likely works it’s magic by making us more alert, better able to process and understand “good” arguments and agree with the logic of them. But, poorly reasoned arguments still fell flat.
So, what’s the moral of our coffee story?
If you’ve got a really well thought, meticulously reasoned, highly persuasive arguement, go ahead and caffeine up the crew, they’ll be more likely to go along with you.
But, if you’re just trying to pull the wool over their eyes or con them with flash and mirrors, but no compelling argument, don’t bother.
So, what do you think?
Bringing a box of French roast to your next meeting?
Have you ever noticed this effect?
Is it ethical to tap it’s magic?
Share your thoughts…
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