People & Psychology course

People psychology :brain:

Community member @gh_bennaceur created course notes for the People & Psychology course within the Digital Psychology MD.

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The six principles of persuasion of Robert Cualdini

Fogg Behavior model

  • Specific desired behavior: our conversion goal.

  • If you have high motivation and low ability (difficult to do), what you’ll get is frustration.

  • If it’s low motivation, but easy to do (e.g. take out the trash), you get annoyance.

  • B(behavior)= M(Motivation) * A(Ability) * T(Trigger).

    • Motivators
      • Pleasure/Pain
      • Hope/ Fear: example: people are motivated by hope when joining a dating website. They are motivated by fear when they update settings in virus software.
      • Social Acceptance / Rejection

    :pushpin: BJ Fogg himself considers hope as the most ethical and empowering motivator.

    • Ability: Ability is all about whether the task at hand is easy to do.

    :star: If you have to choose what to optimize for, always choose ability over motivation.

    - If you want them to sign up for your product, but it takes filling 10 fields to do so, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
    - It’s easier to increase conversions by making it easier to do, not by increasing motivation
    - Ability is more important than Motivation.
    - The more “work” prospects need to do to understand and/or buy what you offer, the higher motivation is needed
    • Trigger: Without an appropriate trigger, the behavior will not occur even if both motivation and ability are high.

      • 2 types of triggers
        • Hot: Hot triggers are things you can do right now (e.g. buttons saying “Get immediate access” or “Download now”).
        • Cold: Cold triggers are things which one cannot act on right now (e.g. billboard ads for a website you spot while driving).
      • A call to action on a website is a trigger. Be careful what’s in the content of the trigger. You need to trigger the right sequence of baby steps.

      If you trigger people at the right time, they will thank you. If you trigger when they lack ability, they’ll get frustrated. If you trigger people when they don’t have motivation (e.g. asking people to shop for a Christmas present in September), you’re annoying people.

      • Drip email is an example of trigger.
    • Behavior types


    :star: Optimizing for green dot behavior – first-time single action

  • Most online conversions (join email list, sign up, buy product) are either green dot (taking a single action for the first time) or blue dot behaviors (taking a familiar single action).

:fire: Desired behavior happens when motivation, ability, and trigger converge

  • Practical advice In order to boost conversions, you need to:
    - help people do what they already want to do,
    - tap into the right motivators,
    - understand the types of motivation,
    - make taking action as easy as possible,
    - focus on simplification,
    - put hot triggers on the path of motivated people,
    - and generally obsess about triggers like your business depended on it.

Lessons from neuromarketing

  • Brain has 3 layers:

    • “New Brain” thinks.
    • “Middle Brain” feels.
    • “Old Brain” decides: by getting inputs from the first two brains.
  • Old brain stimulus

    1. Self-centered: The Old Brain is highly selfish. You need to deliver your message in a way that is acceptable to a highly selfish organ. Customers don’t really care much about you.
    2. Contrast: We’re hardwired to spot the differences! The old brain seeks clear contrast in order to make instant decisions and avoid confusion that results in delayed decisions. This is why Before-after illustrations work.
    3. Tangible: The old brain prefers and scans for tangible input to avoid the extra time and energy involved in thinking.
    4. First and last:
      1. The old Brain is only triggered by a change of state.
      2. Our mind seems to gravitate toward novelty.
      3. You need to create content, sales copy that is pushing into novelty, or the user will lose focus on your content. Text-heavy content is an example of content that doesn’t contain novelty

    :construction: Novel means unknown, and what is unknown demands attention of our brain. Once the new thing is known and understood, then we look to find another unknown to master. In order to keep your website visitor’s attention sustained, you need to present novelty every second.

    1. Visual: The optical nerve is 25 times faster that the auditory nerve and it is connected directly in the Old Brain Always use images next to text to communicate your key messages.

    2. Emotion: You need emotional stimuli to reach the Old Brain.

      • To use nueromarketing for your business, you need to keep in mind this formula:

        **Selling probability** = Pain x Claim x Gain x (Old Brain)^3

        • #1 Address the pain

          • the greater the pain, the higher the chance of a sale.
          • Pain should be aknowledged by the User!
          • User surevys is a good way to address the pain.
        • #2 Differentiate your claims

          • You’ve got to differentiate your claims from your competitors. Asking in surveys about ““How many different websites did you check out before choosing us?” is useful. This is why you need to differentiate from competitors
        • #3 Show proof of claims:

          • Your proof must be very convincing. Show tangible evidence, data, testimonials(full name + photo or video), • verified (scientific) case studies.

      Advice to target the old brain

      • start with grabber: something that really gets the attention
      • Use large photos
      • Be laser-focused on the target customer’s benefits
      • Actions that hinder the decision-making process:
        1. Focusing on yourself, company or product.
        2. Not providing clearly contrasting reasons that support your selling proposition. Contrast is important.
        3. Being too conceptual and requiring thought. Your messages need to be simple, and tangible.
        4. Communicating unnecessary content and not emphasizing selling points in the beginning and the end. Address the pain, and differentiate your claims.
        5. Relying too heavily on words, both spoken and written. Use visuals.
        6. Lacking emotion.

A Big List of Persuasion Techniques

  • Focusing effect: “We can only pay attention to a few things”
  • Context Dependent Memory: “We tend to forget things when we’re out of context.”
  • Self-generation affect effect: “If we figured it out ourselves, we like it better”
  • Affect Heuristic: “We decide differently depending on our emotional state”
  • Facial distraction: “We can’t resist looking at faces”
  • Attentional Bias: “We pay attention to things that touch us (emotionally)”
  • Fear Appeals: “We will fight threats, but only if we’re told how to defeat them”
  • Reflection Effect:We’re risk-averse when we have something to gain, but risk-seeking when we’ve got something to lose”.
  • Gaze Cueing:We automatically focus our orientation to the same object that others are looking at”
  • Forer effect:We most easily identify with vague, mostly positive, and general personality descriptions”.
  • Cognitive dissonance:When we do something that’s not in line with our beliefs, we change our beliefs”
  • Choice-supportive bias: “I chose this option, therefore its features are the best
  • Ambiguity Aversion:We prefer options that are certain”
  • Belonging & Conformity:We prefer to behave in approval with our social groups”.
  • Paradox of choice: “We love either 3 or 5 options”
  • Autonomy:We prefer situations that we have control over”
  • Visual cueing:Our focus of attention is highly influenced by visual cues”
  • Endowment effect:When we own goods, we value them higher than when we don’t”
  • Self-efficacy:We are more likely to perform actions when we believe in our own competence”
  • Base rate neglect & Base rate fallacy:We’re really bad with numbers
  • Self-generation memory effect:It’s easier to remember when we thought of it ourselves
  • Perceptual incongruence: “We automatically pay attention to things that we did not expect****”.****
  • Status quo bias:We have a tendency to do nothing”
  • Availability heuristic:If we can think of it, it must be important”
  • Commitment bias or labor-love effect: “We like something more when we’ve invested more effort into it”.
  • Conceptual & Associative Priming: “Subtle cues subconsciously influence our thoughts, feelings and behavior”.
  • Signaling Triggers, Reminders, & Alerts: “Even when highly motivated and able, we need a little reminder to make us act”
  • Sparking Triggers: “Often our motivation – and thereby actions – can be ignited rather easily”
  • Facilitating Triggers: “Often our ability to act – and thereby our acting – can be ignited rather easily”
  • Repetition & Direct Priming: “Repetition helps us learn and react both quicker and easier”
  • Peak-end rule: “The ending and the highest peak of an experience, determine how we remember it”
  • Domestic country bias: “We prefer domestic products over imported ones”
  • Country of Origin-effect: “We prefer products from stereotypical countries”
  • Mimicry(Immitating): “When others mimic our behavior, we like them more”
  • Position targeting: “We are easily influenced by which few products attributes we use to make a comparison”
  • Hyperbolic Discounting:We show a preference for rewards that arrive sooner rather than later”.
  • Equivalence Framing: “The way things are stated or portrayed highly influences our choices”
  • Front loading: “We prefer to get the conclusion first”. Conclusion first, everything else second!
  • Present Focus Bias (or Immediacy Effect): “We show a preference for rewards that arrive sooner rather than later”
  • Emphasis Framing: “The focus on specific subsets of relevant aspects, highly influences our judgments”

Cognitive biases

  1. Some of the more common biases you will face during CRO work
    1. False-Consensus Bias: You think the world is like you
    2. The Curse of Knowledge: You can’t unknow what you know.
    3. Anchoring: is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions. Anchoring occurs when individuals use an initial piece of information to make subsequent judgments.
    4. Egocentric Bias: This bias about recalling the past in a self-serving manner, e.g., remembering one’s exam grades as being better than they were, or remembering a caught fish as bigger than it really was.
    5. Recency Bias: This cognitive error tricks you into preferring fresh data over older data.
    6. Selective Perception: Expectations affect perceptions. the way you phrase questions will affect the responses. You must do your best to not lead people.
    7. Confirmation Bias: People have a tendency to test things that confirm their beliefs.
    8. Congruence Bias: It’s the tendency to test hypotheses exclusively through direct testing, instead of testing possible alternative hypotheses.
    9. Clustering Illusion: it’s when you think you spotted a trend – and base all your optimization and hypotheses off that trend. But in fact it was not significant at all, but a small sample. Just because there is a similarity, doesn’t mean there is a pattern.

Emotional and Rational Decision Making

:mag: people make decisions using both. Emotional side often wins, but people justify their decisions rationally (often without even being aware of it). In fact even with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably always based on emotion.

  • People like to think they are rational, but they are not
  • (Product) Images can have a huge effect on emotional decision-making

:key: When we’re selling a product, we need to make a compelling emotional and rational case. They should be able to fall in love with it emotionally, and justify it rationally.

How People View Websites


  • Top left corner gets the attention first


  • bottom right terminal area is where you should place your call to action

  • People read in F-patterns: Eyetracking visualizations show that users often read website content in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe. This is why you want your value proposition in the top and why your menu should be either top horizontal or on the left, vertical.


  • Use visibly bigger introductory paragraphs for improved attention

  • People won’t look past the first search results


  • Left side of the page gets more attention than the right

  • Use high quality, large images

  • Dominant headlines draw the eye

Cognitive fluency

:key: Cognitive fluency is the human tendency to prefer things that are familiar and easy to understand.

  • Why people prefer unlimited plans? Because it’s easy to understand.
  • Hard to read, hard to buy
  • The more familiar we are with something, the more we like it, this is the mere exposure effect.

Hey @CXLTalent candidates,

We have an important exercise for you. Complete this exercise and you will:

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What you must do:

  1. Read the course notes above
  2. Comment on this post what you think and any important points from the course you want to add

@gh_bennaceur did an amazing job creating course notes :confetti_ball: It’s something we want to see happen more in community. :slight_smile:


These are great notes!

Although I did not take this course, but most of the notes I am familiar with from similar courses.

Something that grabbed my attention is that F pattern is noticed in English websites. But what about Arabic (or any language that is written right to left) websites, does it follow the same pattern but right to left (inverted F pattern) ?


Hello ,
the lessons from neuromarketing help me a lot in copywriting. When I write a sale text, I remember the lesson that it is important to promote novelty in the text. Cialdini’s 6 principles are very useful. I really like the list of cognitive biases. It is very easy to consult


Hi I read this article about Arabic website and F pattern [


Well done @gh_bennaceur we will for sure share this and your profile in the CXL newsletter very soon :slight_smile:

Maybe next week @alejandra and @tania ?


Thats very useful. Thank you!


Excellent material and very helpful also for copywriters! Are there any differences in the way people look at a website on mobile versus desktop?


Thank you @hesh_fekry for this opportunity, really happy that they are useful for the community, looking forward to sharing resumed versions for the next courses of the mini-degree with the community, stay tuned :wink:!


@gh_bennaceur Indeed. Leading by example here.

You already sent a couple so the rest of @CXLTalent should watch out for these.

If anyone else has anything similar on this course or any others we are happy to help compile community notes on any courses.

Everyone wins :slight_smile:

just ping me or @tania


Thanks for the notes @gh_bennaceur !
I’m in the digital marketing minidegree, and don’t have access to this course, so this is incredibly useful :slight_smile:


Really happy to hear that @luka :smiley: !


Amazing notes. Cialdini and Fogg principles are amazing to have ideas for optimizing. Reading your notes I just have some idea to test. This course is one of the best of the CRO minidegree.

The big list of Cognitive biases is also incredible to have quick insights.

Thanks for sharing this notes with us!


Thank you for sharing! I’m not still there- but moving toward this, and can’t wait to read details :slight_smile:


Amazing thanks for sharing!! Most of them covered in CRO degree as well. Always fascinating how predictably irrational we are.


You’re welcome, I appreciate this feedback. I will share more and more resumed versions for all CRO courses, so stay tuned :wink:


@BrunoLuiAguiar curious to hear what your ideas are?

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Hey @CXLTalent,

@gh_bennaceur’s Course Notes will be featured in our Growth Notes newsletter tomorrow. Great work, Hichem. :confetti_ball:

If I were you, I’d contribute to these Course Notes by Hichem or better yet create my own to share with the community. Not only are they a powerful tool to understanding key takeaways from any course, they offer you a chance to establish a name among everyone who follows CXL.

Just share your course notes in community and our editors will take your notes to the next level. :raised_hands:

Cheers :beers:


Thank you so much Tania for that! I’m really happy that I could have a way to do a positive impact to an amazing community like CXL. In addition to the benefit that you mentioned I want to share with the community members otyher benefits of creating their own resumed version then share it here:

  • Only Watching videos and try to understand them is good, but watching and writing the most appropriate ideas is way better to understand the courses content.

  • Writing your own version based on your understanding is extremely helpful later on when you want to return back to it to refresh your knowledge. Resume it now, return back to it later.

  • Finally, sharing is caring, your collaboration will be reacheable for the whole community members. It will be saved as well on the platform, for the next X years :wink:. This also could be a big oppoirtunity for you to get more meaningful connections, or even getting your next job!

Looking forward to be featured on the newsletter @tania !

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I think it would be nice to add the Fogg Behavior model chart:

I would also add some Peep’s thoughts :

Motivation: I use FBM to decide how much information people need before asking them to take action. I assess the motivation that I’ve built with the copy that came before I ask them to buy/sign up/click, and the button copy itself – is this motivating or not?

Ability: Is the form easy to fill out? Is it easy to buy? How can I make it easier?

Trigger: I like to think of headlines and calls to action as triggers. Are they compelling? Are they visible, high in the visual hierarchy?