How ObamaCare Benefits from the Scarcity Heuristic

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The Concorde was a supersonic passenger plane. It shuttled people between New York and Paris very quickly.

When commercial Concorde flights began in 1976, the novelty and excitement of flying at twice the speed of sound led people to line up to take the flights. But after 27 years and several safety mishaps, the Concorde’s popularity waned. Flights were often less than half full, so British Airways, the operator, was losing money. Bigly.

In 2002, the company that operated the service announced the Concorde’s last flight would be in 2003.

Every flight sold out immediately. The impending death of the Concorde made the flight more popular than ever. Why?

There’s no rational explanation for this surge in popularity. If you didn’t need to get to Paris in an hour before the announcement, you didn’t need to after the announcement.

So why did the failing jet service become popular?

It’s called the scarcity heuristic. People value things that are rare, hard to get, or about to expire. My persuasion hero, Robert Cialdini, names scarcity as one of just six principles of persuasion. According to Behavioral Economics:

When an object or resource is less readily available (e.g, due to limited quantity or time), we tend to perceive it as more valuable (Cialdini, 2008). Scarcity appeals are often used in marketing to induce purchases. An experiment (Lee & Seidle, 2012) that used wristwatch advertisements as stimuli exposed participants to one of two different product descriptions “Exclusive limited edition. Hurry, limited stocks” or “New edition. Many items in stock”. They then had to indicate how much they would be willing to pay for the product. The average consumer was willing to pay an additional 50% if the watch was advertised as scarce.

We’re seeing the scarcity heuristic benefit Obamacare’s popularity right now. Fox News reports that support for Obamacare is surging just as Republicans prepare to kill it:

According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, there is an even split betweenregistered voters who support the law and those who oppose it. Currently, 45 percent approve of the legislation compared to a poll back in January—before President Trump took office—that showed 41 percent of voters approved of the bill.

This surge in popularity frightens a lot of our weak Republican members of Congress. It shouldn’t.

The only reason for the surge is scarcity. Were President Trump and Paul Ryan to announce that they’re leaving Obamacare alone, support for the program would wane because people don’t value what’s abundant.

Urge your lawmakers to ignore the scarcity-driven polls and kill Obamacare because it’s the right thing to do.

Use This One Word Because It Makes You More Influential

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Don’t ask me to explain why the human brain works the way it does. And don’t ask me how scientists get the idea for some experiments.

Instead, take note of the most influential work in the English language, because I want you to be more influential.

What’s that one word?

It’s not “you” or “free” or “instantly” or “new.”  They’re very powerful words, as every copywriter knows. But they’re not the most influential.

The most influential word comes from The Wizard of Oz.

Because, because, because. This is amazing science that will make you more influential

Becuz becuz becuz becuz beCUZ!

Because Is the Most Influential Word, Because It Is

Researcher Ellen Langer wanted to see how to make requests more persuasive. She had her researchers approach lines to copiers in busy offices and asked if they could go next. Each time, researchers used a very specific request: “Excuse me, I have five pages. Could I use the copier next?”

When asked this way, sixty percent of the time the people already in line let the researchers butt in. Not bad.

When the researchers added “because I’m in a rush,” the number soared from 60 percent to 94 percent!

But here’s where the word “because” really earns its stripes.  Researchers realized “because I’m in a hurry” made sense.  What if the “because” clause was meaningless.

They ran the experiment one more time, this time asking, “May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies.”  Well, of course, they had to make copies. Why else would they be asking to use the Xerox machine?

You’d think such a silly request would prompt the people in line to say “get lost.”  But that didn’t happen. What did happen was astonishing, and it made the word “because” easily the most influential word in English.

When asked “May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies,” 93 percent of the people in line said “sure.”

Like I said, don’t ask me to explain why the brain works this way, just remember that it does.

When you ask someone to go vote on April 2, add a because clause.  “Will you vote on April 2, because it’s an election day,” will be as effective as “will you vote on April 2, because your liberty depends on it.”

Now, go find out:

Why the Sequester Was Worse Before It Happened

How Psychological Biases Hurt Government

And here’s the book that’ll make you more influential: Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

Source:  The Xerox studies can be found in: Langer, E., Blank, A., and Chanowitz, B. (1978). The mindlessness of ostensibly thoughtful action: The role of “placebic” information in interpersonal interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36: 639– 42. Retrieved from Goldstein, Noah J.; Martin, Steve J.; Robert B. Cialdini (2008-06-10). Yes! (Kindle Locations 2882-2884). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.