The Psychology of Sex #7: How to Get Someone to Say Yes

What if I told you that there is a way to get almost 100% of people to say yes to you? To anything? Would that be something you’d be interested in?

Joe mentioned in the comments section last week that one other way to put people in an agreeable mood is to ask a lot of questions that they say “yes” to (hence they’re nodding their head a lot and conditioning their body to agree).

What I’m going to talk about today has the same result of getting someone to say yes, with a twist. I’m not talking about tricking people or coercing people or fooling them. Rather, I’m talking how you can significantly decrease the chances that the person says no.

How do you do this? It’s all in the power of opting out.

In his TED talk (one of the best I’ve ever seen), Dan Ariely talks about the number of people in Europe who are willing to be organ donors. He breaks it down by country, using the data from their equivalent of America’s DMV.

In some countries, a remarkably low number of people are willing to donate their organs after they pass away (something I really don’t understand. It’s like the easiest altruistic act ever). We’re talking an average of around 20%. In other countries, the donor rates are incredibly high–almost 100% across the board.

Why is that? Do some countries just have more charitable people? Are these religious differences? Are their financial incentives in some countries for organ donors? Do people in Ireland not have livers?

The answer is none of the above. In truth, the difference comes from the forms that people fill out at the DMV. In the countries with the low organ donation rates, the line on the form is something like, “Check below if you want to participate in the organ donor program.” You’re asking people to say “yes” to you, and guess what? You only have a 20% success rate.

Conversely, the other countries have the following line: “Check below if you don’t want to participate in the organ donor program.” You’re asking people not to say no.

Jamey's visit to Charleston 006Why is this? It’s not that hard to check a box. The key is that it’s a HUGE choice about your body and life and the idea that your organs could be in someone else’s body. It’s not only big, but it’s probably something you don’t think about very often. You don’t wake up every day and consider the implications of giving your eyeball to a blind man when you pass away. When a choice that big is narrowed down to a short line on a long form, our instinct is to put off the decision until later. We delay the inevitable. Thus we don’t check the box.

How is this relevant to the psychology of sex? The basic foundation is implicitly understood. You don’t go up to a woman at the bar and say, “Would it be okay if we chatted for a while?” Rather, you just start talking, and give her room to opt out.

The same applies for bigger decisions. Say you’re chatting with a woman at a party, and at the end of the night you decide to ask her out on a date. Instead of asking her, “Would you like to go out for dinner next week?”, say, “I’d love to take you out for dinner next week” or if you’ve talked about a specific restaurant, “We should totally go to X restaurant next week.” You’ve put a date on the table, stated its existence, and you give her a chance to opt out. If not you go on the date.

What do you think?

For other entries in The Psychology of Sex series, please click here for the last entry and the list of all entries.