When it comes down to it, influencing people to take a certain action is simple. “If we want to influence other people’s behavior, we must make desirable behaviors easy and undesirable behaviors hard,” Art Markman, a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas and author of Smart Thinking, writes in Harvard Business Review.
Markman says this school of thought is based on Richard Thaler’s and Cass Sunstein’s book Nudge. “The human cognitive system aims to get the best possible outcome for the least possible energy cost,” he explains.
When it comes to decision-making, the old school of thought was that information spurred decisions. While that is true, Markman says, a better explanation is that energy “is the key currency that the cognitive system seeks to preserve.”