• David de Souza

The Catalyst Summary

Updated: Jul 20



Often when we think of persuasion we think about how we can persuade during an interaction. We don't often consider what we can do before the conversation has started. This book highlights these ideas.


Want to dig deeper than the core principles? Check out:


Core Principles:


I have taken the lessons from 'The Catalyst' and distilled them into 13 core principles:


  1. When it comes to change, people usually add heat and pressure but rarely think about removing barriers.

  2. When our choices are taken away or threatened, we react against this loss of control. To gain back control and to feel autonomous, we often engage in the forbidden behavior.

  3. We prefer choice even if it makes us worse off. For example: People preferred to make the choice when to turn off life support even though they felt worse compared to a doctor making the decision.

  4. Jurors who are told to disregard evidence weigh it more heavily.

  5. When given just one option people will find holes in it. By giving multiple options you divert their brain to thinking about which option is best.

  6. Highlight a discrepancy between what a person might recommend others to do and what they are doing. This technique works because we strive for consistency. We want our beliefs and behaviors to align.

  7. Recovery is often faster from severe injuries compared to minor ones because with a severe injury we get it treated straight away. With minor injuries, we put it off and the problem isn't fixed.

  8. Reframe things as regaining a loss. For example with BREXIT and 'Regaining control'.

  9. Viewpoints that are too extreme fall into peoples' 'region of rejection' and get discounted.

  10. If information is within peoples' 'zone of acceptance', then that information will work to change peoples' minds. If information is outside the persons 'zone of acceptance' then the information will not persuade and it will often have a backfire effect and people become even more certain their initial thinking is correct. The solution is a more moderate appeal.

  11. Multiple sources of recommendation do not have much of a difference if they are similar (for example an extra family member or coworker) because it is not about how many others, it's about additional information.

  12. The more ambiguity there is around an idea/event/product, the less valuable that thing becomes. This is the uncertainty tax.

  13. Overcome uncertainty by using trials of products or services.




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