CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 7 Review

Photo by Mike Chai from Pexels

My biggest fear around taking a scholarship spot in the minidegree course happened this week. I got behind and didn’t meet my time deadline, so now I am posting at the very possible minute before losing my spot. I hate this because I don’t want to feel like I am rushing through the course material (because it is so good) but also I need to honor my commitment.

But, to be fair to me, instead of spending time on my computer, I spent time with family. Like, in person. After a very long year, I was able to see by brother and go out to a restaurant to eat and work on my yard and not be alone. So worth it. I had no idea how much I needed that time away from work.

Now, back to it. This week’s review is a continuation of Roger Dooley’s Cognitive Biases course. I got through the rest of it — and it was a lot.

Before we dive into some of my biggest takeaways from this week, I want to remind you that you can read my previous reviews by clicking the links below.

CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 1 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 2 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 3 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 4 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 5 Review
CXL Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree — Week 6 Review

And if you are interested in checking out this training program for yourself (I highly recommend it), then visit the CXL Institute.


Ambiguity Aversion Bias

People share an innate aversion to ambiguity. By understanding your users’ uncertainties, you can then establish clarity in these parts of your site. This is especially true in high-friction areas like checkout pages.

If we can reduce ambiguity anywhere in our marketing, we can make our customers more comfortable and more likely to take action.

For example, long URLs where you could see where you were clicking got 3 times the engagement than a shortened URL where you don’t know where it is sending you.

Chart and Science Bias

Data that can be visualized should be visualized. We have a natural inclination to favor data that are accompanied by visualizations. “Sciencey” content increases your credibility of whatever is next to it.

Image Bias

Images make statements more believable, even when the image doesn’t illustrate the data.

Why? Fluency. Images make the info easier to call to mind and easier to believe.

If you can, use a related image to make your claims more believable, memorable, and easy to recall.

Picture Superiority Effect

When you HEAR/READ (words only) some information, you’ll only remember 10% of it 3 days later.

But when you ADD a relevant photo (picture + words) to the information, you’ll remember 65% of it 3 days later.

Von Restorff Effect

This design principle capitalizes on visual contrast to drive your customer’s attention to the desired part of your page and/or call-to-action.

If you want your product remembered, have it stand out among a group of other products.

Contrast drives attention so key information must stand out from the rest of the page.

Distinction Bias

Simultaneous viewing two separate things increases perceived differences.

Side-by-side comparisons emphasize differences. Show the alternative. You can also use this bias to highlight features of a higher margin product.

Bandwagon and Cheerleader Effect

The bandwagon effect is the principle that we want to do the same thing someone else is doing.

The cheerleader effect is that individuals appear more attractive when they appear in a group.

Putting this bias into use:

On your About Us or Team page, consider grouping people instead of individual headshots or in a montage. Choose a group photo or photo montage to show people together.

Courtesy Bias

There is a natural human inclination towards politeness over honesty, especially when directly asking for opinions. People tend to be socially correct over truthful.

Try asking different questions and formats to dig deeper.

Don’t confuse feedback on a person with an opinion of the company or product.

Endowment Effect

This effect explains the increased attachment people feel to items they’ve already experienced or had some investment in, even to a minuscule degree.

We place a higher value on things that are ours.

Use the endowment effect with free trials. It is harder for them to give up something they already own and have access to.

Can apply simply by picking up an item invokes the endowment effect — stores like people to handle the merchandise.

  1. Let your customers try, or at least touch, your product.
  2. Use vivid images and sensory descriptions.

IKEA Effect

Not unlike the endowment effect, the IKEA effect expands on the process of developing an attachment between your users and your product via ownership and co-creation.

Product is more valuable if the customer assembles it, even in parts.

  • Let customer finish product
  • Let customer customize
  • “Co-creation” invokes Unity!

Illusory Superiority

Also known as the Lake Wobegon Effect, this bias affects only the most intelligent and perceptive people in the world. Which is everyone.

Over-estimate good qualities
Under-estimate bad qualities

We all think that we are better than we are. This is human nature.

Flatter your customers — they will believe you!

Precision Bias

Precise numbers are inherently better than round numbers. They are perceived as more believable and less inflated.

But beware of the “syllable” effect. Keep it in simple terms.

$4,972.00 << this seems higher

In general, precision pays off.


We have a bias toward the first piece of information offered.

Once you set that $1,200 price, the $59 price looks much cheaper.

Event irrelevant numbers can create price anchors — avoid low values.

A great example can be found in almost any infomercial:

  • You’d expect to pay $499!
  • Thousands have been sold at $399!
  • But today, you’ll pay only $199!
  • PLUS, we’ll give you a free one!
  • All you have to do is make three payments of just $69

Even if you only have one product to sell, try throwing out a high number first!!

Price Illusion

The concept of price illusion, or people’s tendency to be compelled by large numbers, is simple enough. One common use of this principle would be developing your company’s own proprietary currency or points system.

People are generally impressed by large numbers.

Mere Exposure Effect

The mere exposure effect can be particularly powerful when applied to your branding strategy. While its effects are nuanced and gradual, understanding the value of repetition and cross-media exposure can boost brand recognition and therefore trust.

The perception of goodness increases as people see it more.

Being exposed to them more makes them more valuable.

Even brief exposure helps.

Do I like it or is it mere exposure?

Mere Exposure Marketing:

  • Repetition: Use logo, brand, name, etc. in multiple places
  • Pre-expose when possible
  • Use familiar names, imagery, etc.

Decoy Effect

People never consider prices in a vacuum. They always make comparisons.

Subscription Offer A
$59 — Internet only (68%)
$125 — Internet & Print (32%)
Predicted Revenue — $8,012

Subscription Offer B
$59 — Internet only (16%)
$125 — Print Only (0)
$125 — Internet & Print (85%)
Predicted Revenue — $11,444

Add a less attractive offer to boost sales of a similar offer.

Add a more expensive product to boost sales of a lower-priced one.

Two similar products? Consider pricing just a few pennies apart to help resolve a mental log jam in your customer’s mind. Help them make a decision.

Extrinsic Incentive Bias

This bias involves the discrepancy in ranking the motives of others as compared to oneself.

The importance of money, etc. is often overestimated. We assume other people are mainly motivated by money.

Don’t make price reductions your first resort. You may be overestimating the effect of price particularly over other motivations you could be offering them.

Paradox of Choice

Having choices is usually considered a good thing. However, too much choice leads to cognitive overload and subsequent paralysis.

With the greater number of choices, sales actually went down.

Smaller number of choices equal:

  • Higher sales
  • Higher satisfaction — less regret

If limiting the number of choices isn’t an option, then guide the customer to a decision:

  • “Our recommendation”
  • “House specialty”
  • “Today only”
  • “Most popular”
  • Photo or illustration
  • Bigger font, box frame, etc.

Whew! That’s it for this week’s lesson. I am about halfway through the course and excited to see what is next.

Thanks for reading.




Launch strategist and copywriter for spiritual entrepreneurs on a mission to heal the world.

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Kristina Shands

Kristina Shands

Launch strategist and copywriter for spiritual entrepreneurs on a mission to heal the world.

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