Book Club — The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind

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By Jonah Berger

There are lots of books on persuasion. Most don’t add much to the last one. But The Catalyst is worth the time. Well-written — a high-value read. The author builds on newer science to break down how to change minds. Pushing and lecturing rarely work. First, figure out what people think now, the barriers to changing their minds, and how strong is the resistance. He then describes how to overcome each barrier in different situations. He outlines Reactance (doing what you’re specifically told not to do is not just for children), Endowment (fear of loss is more powerful than the attraction of gains), Distance (you have to make a case that isn’t far from their prior beliefs), Uncertainty (nobody likes that), and Corroborating Evidence (more credible and trusted sources are better). Health-related real world examples include getting people to quit smoking, getting addicts to seek treatment, and moving voters and policymakers. Longer Case Studies show how successful persuaders applied the principles. Appendices include detailed skill building in active listening, applying freemium, and force field analysis (you have to read the book to find out what they are).