If you're like most people, you probably see yourself as a positive person. Someone who likely responds better to positive messages, rather than negative messages.
But maybe that's not quite correct.
The fact is, negative messaging works to get people's attention – including yours.
Neuroscientists call this the Negativity Bias; which quite simply means that our brains are more highly activated by negative messaging and events than positive ones.
Study after study demonstrates this is true in social judgements, attribution of intentions, cognition, attention, learning and memory, decision-making, and politics.
An article published in The National Center for Biotechnology Information, states that: ’...across an array of psychological situations and tasks, adults display a negativity bias, or the propensity to attend to, learn from, and use negative information far more than positive information.'
Social scientists and anthropologists tell us that our brains are hardwired this way for good reason!
You see, the negativity bias makes us hyper aware of the risks in our surroundings so we have a better chance of survival.
You also likely know it from your own experience. Clickbait and urban legends usually seem to be related to something negative .
Did you hear about alligators in the sewers?
Or what about the guy who went skinny-dipping in a lake? He came out with a fish latched onto his, well, use your imagination.
Hard to forget those stories, right?
Populist politicians use negative rhetoric to tap into people's anger and heighten the divisions among us, because it works.
And, you're far more likely to focus on the one negative comment on your social media post (or performance, or feedback form form for whatever you do), than all the positive ones combined, because that's how we're wired.
So what's the deal with testimonials and case studies?
They're good, aren’t they? Social proof and all that….
But if you subscribe to all this research on negativity, you might wonder if testimonials and case studies are worth doing at all.
Because it's true; overtly positive testimonials or simplistic claims of greatness are easily discounted by the reader or listener.
But, a well-crafted testimonial and case study has some of the emotional negativity and drama of a great story, complete with desires, needs, inner conflicts, and wrong turns.
That's why I recommend you collect what I call testimonial and case stories.
Good stories leverage the magnetic appeal of the negativity bias, while leaving the audience with a 'feel-good' vibe.
The best of both worlds.
A good story also takes the reader or listener on a journey that reflects the transformation of the main character's relationship with the brand, product, or service that's the focus of the testimonial or case study.
Do you collect testimonials and case stories like that?
Because those are worth telling, sharing, reading, and hearing… and they work!
Image copyright: By The Asylum
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