Belief Bubbles: How to Avoid the Worldview Backfire Effect
You have to meet people where they are in terms of what they believe and how they see the world. Otherwise your marketing not only fails, it backfires against you.
Our beliefs make us. As playwright Anton Chekhov said:
Man is what he believes.
When we think about our beliefs, they're usually of the kind with a capital B: religion, spirituality, patriotism, and philosophy. These are no doubt important.
But the truth is, our sense of self is essentially a bundle of beliefs about everything. In fact, it's more accurate to say that “we are belief” rather than “we believe.”
You need to not only understand your prospects’ convictions make up their worldview, but you also need to mirror that worldview back at them. But first, you might wonder, where does our bundle of beliefs come from?
Well, they're generated and maintained through a complex and generally automatic process in our brains. James Alcock, Professor of Psychology at York University, calls it “the belief engine,” which he describes like this:
The belief engine chugs away in the background, taking in information from the world outside, scrutinizing its source, checking its compatibility with existing beliefs (that's important), subjecting it at times to logical analysis, and then effortlessly generating new beliefs and maintaining or modifying old ones. Most often this occurs without the awareness of the operator, and that means you and me.
So, yes, we generate new beliefs, but it's in the context of our existing convictions and perspectives, not in direct contravention of those beliefs. And that's true except for in the rarest of cases.
In other words, trying to change minds can absolutely crush your marketing efforts. Fortunately, social psychology tells you which cognitive mechanisms to avoid with your messages.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Longevity Gains to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.