The Massive Power of the “Because” Even if it is Fake

One of the most persuasively powerful words in the English language is “BECAUSE.” Specifically, when a request is made followed by “because” and a reason (even if fake or imagined), it is much more likely that the request will be granted compared to if there is no because at all. While reading this article, think about how that plays a role in your self judgment and self talk that cause you to feel or believe a certain way and justify your actions.

In the 1970s, a psychological study was conducted by Dr. Ellen Langer, a social psychologist from Harvard University. In this study, which ended up being groundbreaking, subjects completed requests to individuals who were waiting in line to use a copy machine. The subjects were carrying their own documents and attempting to cut in line to make copies. Three separate groups made different requests and the responses to each inquiry were analyze to determine the  impact of each. In the first control group, there were requests made without a “because.” In the second control group, subjects made the request with a “because” followed by a specific real reason. Finally, in the third group, subjects asked to cut in line with a “because” followed by a fake or placebic reason. Here is the breakdown of specifically what was said:

  1. Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?
  2. Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?
  3. Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?

The results show that the effect of the “because” or “why” on persuasion is astonishing. The conversion rate of the request in the first group was merely 60%. However, the conversion rate of the request in the group with the fake because was 93%! The conversion rate with the true because? 94%! Obviously, the because is extremely powerful and has a major effect on persuasion and human activity.

Now instead of thinking of this in the terms of persuading others, think of it in the terms of self talk or self judgment. Truth be told, our moods, our mindset and even our actions are governed largely by self talk. How do we talk to ourselves? What do we say? What’s the tone? Is there excitement? We are always persuading ourselves whether we realize it or not. And if you can control this self talk, you can control your mood and your behavior.

When you’re talking about goal setting, whether it be losing weight, getting a promotion, etc., the power of the why is astronomical. What’s the because? Write it. In addition to writing out the specifics of your goal, write out the why. Write it out in detail. Review it daily. Memorize it. Feel it. Remind yourself all day long and at night before you go to bed. Sing it. Whatever you have to do, embed it in your subconscious.

Now remember, it can even be a fake because!! Why is that important for self talk? Well because you can make your why exciting and fun as hell even if it isn’t necessarily 100% true. I’m not telling you to lie to yourself (or others), but when you’re dealing with self talk, go ahead and embellish a bit. Make it desirable. Make it fun. Your brain will go after it and be persuaded by it. I promise.

Check it out. If you’re looking to get fit, which because is more desirable?

  1. To be healthy and to have more energy.
  2. To be a chiseled machine with strength and stamina that people envy.

Do you see what I mean? It isn’t rocket science. It is simple human psychology. Test it out and let me know what you think.  The bottom line is, regardless of if you’re persuading another, a group of people, or yourself, ALWAYS HAVE A WHY!! ALWAYS HAVE A BECAUSE!!

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