Boost Your Website Persuasion By Leveraging the Power of Verbs

April 27, 2011Leave a reply

In 1974, psychologists Elizabeth Loftus and John Palmer showed test subjects seven 5-30 second video clips of car accidents.

Every subject saw the same clips.

After viewing the videos, the subjects were given questions about the accidents and were asked to write down their answers.

The twist was that they were given different questions.

The critical questions were:

  1. About how fast were the cars going when they hit each other?
  2. About how fast were the cars going when they smashed each other?
  3. About how fast were the cars going when they collided with each other?
  4. About how fast were the cars going when they bumped into each other?
  5. About how fast were the cars going when they contacted with each other?

The time taken to conduct the experiment was about one and a half hour.

The results? The highest speed estimates — 40.8 miles per hour on average — were provided by those asked how fast the cars were going when they smashed into each other.

The lowest speed estimates — 31.8 miles per hour on average — were provided by those asked how fast the cars were going when they contacted each other.

A slight change in verbs resulted in a 22.1% difference in recall.

Table: Speed Estimates From Various Verbs

Verb Mean speed estimate (mph)
Smashed 40.8
Collided 39.3
Bumped 38.1
Hit 34.0
Contacted 31.8

Are you connecting the dots that this has profound and far-reaching implications for website persuasion?

For example, consider which of the following blog article headlines would impact you more and make you more likely to read the article:

  1. The ADHD Answers You’re Looking For
  2. Solve ADHD With These Safe Treatments
  1. Find the Right Hiking Trail for You
  2. Discover the Right Hiking Trail for You
  1. Make More Sales With These Email Marketing Tips
  2. Multiply Your Sales With These Email Marketing Tips
  1. Get a Better Memory With These Exercises
  2. Strengthen Your Memory With These Exercises

Are you leveraging the power of verbs to increase your website persuasion?

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