Why “Because” Is So Persuasive

Research shows that the word “because” is one of the most persuasive words in our culture. The reason is that when you use the word “because” you force yourself as a speaker to provide the audience with a reason for supporting your objective or agreeing to your request.

This is based on research carried out by behavioral scientist Ellen Langer, which involved someone trying to cut in line to use a photo copier.

Langer set up the following scenarios:

1 – A stranger approaches someone waiting in line to use a photocopier and simply asks: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” Sixty percent of people agreed to allow the stranger to cut in line when faced with this direct request.

2 – Next, a stranger made the same request but added a reason: “May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” Nearly everyone (94 percent) agreed.

3 – Finally, the stranger approached and gave what would appear to be a completely unpersuasive reason for the request, but still employed the word ‘because’: “May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” Even though this reason is less than compelling, 93 percent of people still agreed to allow the person to break in and make copies.

So when designing your next presentation remember to use the word “because” as it will force you to provide reasons for the audience to support your objective. And as the research shows, giving the audience reasons (even not so great reasons) makes for a very persuasive presentation.

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