Compare and Contrast

Compare and contrast is not a principle of influence; rather we talk about it as a phenomenon. Did you know the order in which you present things impacts your perception about the things presented? For example, if someone told you the price of a piece of furniture was $999 then quickly said, “I’m sorry, that wasn’t correct. The price is actually $799.” All of a sudden $799 seems like a very good deal in comparison to the original price. If the salesperson has originally quoted $599, then came back and told you the actual price was $799, now you’re disappointed because the price seems high…by comparison.

What you present first makes all the difference. If you own a restaurant and your wine list starts with $20 bottles and works up to a $200 bottle, very quickly the $60 or $70 bottle seems expensive when your eyes saw $20 first. But, if the list starts with the $200 bottle at the top and works down to the less expensive bottles, now by comparison a $100 bottle doesn’t seem so expensive and the $60 – $70 bottles appear to be a bargain. Odds are, by listing the highest priced bottles first, the average sale on a bottle of wine will be higher than if the restaurant starts with the cheapest bottles at the top of the list. If that’s all it takes to increase sales, then isn’t it worth the change?

Comparing and contrasting numbers and features are also important when thinking about reciprocity. What you present first can have a big, big effect on how future presentations are perceived. When you make your presentation undoubtedly there will be times when you hear the dreaded, “No thanks.” That’s a part of life and I suspect some of the reason you’re reading this blog – you want to be more successful – hear “No” less and “Yes” more. Most people hear “no,” and leave the situation feeling defeated but, if you’re ready with an alternative proposal, one that looks even better by comparison, then the other person might just say “Yes.”

And that’s your overview of comparing and contrasting.

5 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    It depends on your intention? If you are deceiving the other person for your personal gain then, no. It is not ethical or morally right. You are exploiting these principles. However, if you truly believe and it truly is going to be for the benefit of the other person then these principles would be considered ethical and morally right to help them to say yes. Remember, there is an opposition in all things.

  2. Brian Ahearn
    Brian Ahearn says:

    Intention is always important. The principles are neither good or bad, it's how people use them that reveals character. A quick checklist I tell people to go through is to ask themselves:

    1. Is what I'm saying true?
    2. Are the principles I'm using natural to the situation?
    3. Is what I'm asking mutually beneficial?

    I people can answer yes to all three then they're approaching the situation in an ethical manner.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] In each show we don’t root for the bad guys because we agree with their antics but something about each stands out – we know who they are. We know they’re bad but each really does want something better for himself, his family and friends. By contrast, so many “good” people they come in contact with aren’t actually good and viewers find themselves repelled by their false veneers. In real life think about Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong and many others who appeared to be good people until the truth was found out. It’s a classic case of the contrast phenomenon. […]

  2. […] psychology there’s something we call the contrast phenomenon. What you experience first will impact what you experience next. When Starbucks puts “No Tip” […]

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