How to Make People Believe Your Expert Lies

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If you're an accomplished and knowledgeable expert, how do you persuade people to come over to your way of thinking? Rank manipulation, of course! Here's how to rope people in with lies.

Are you a movie critic who loved a great movie, but knows no one will see it? Are you an expert on books, and have just read the best book that no one will read? Perhaps you're a restaurant critic who has the unenviable job of writing about a fantastic restaurant that's set up in the middle of nowhere with no chance of succeeding. How do you promote true quality?

You might think that, in your capacity as an expert, you are well placed to promote these things. And you are, just not in the way you think. A glowing review, declaring that you've found the Next Big Thing isn't going to pull people in. If you know you're right about the high quality of something, pretend that you're uncertain.


A study of consumers who read expert's reviews about a restaurant showed that the consumer was happy to pay more at a restaurant. All they needed was for the expert, instead of being confident, to express uncertainty about the restaurant. Subjects expressed a willingness to pay over fifty percent more for food that a food expert, with magazine jobs to their credit, wasn't really all that sure about. On the other hand, if the review was written by an amateur blogger, the consumers were willing to pay more only if the reviewer was sure that the restaurant was great.

The phenomenon is known as "expectancy violations theory." Consumers expect that an expert will be sure about the subject of their expertise, so uncertainty intrigues them. The consumers are willing to invest time, effort, and money in something that promises to satisfy their curiosity. Amateurs, on the other hand, are expected to be uncertain, so if they're enthusiastic and sure about something, consumers expect it to be good, and get excited.


So if you want to promote something, and you're an expert, express uncertainty about it when you talk about it in an official capacity. Then make a yelp or amazon or youtube account and leave comments like, "This is totes the bessssssssssssssssst!" That way you'll have the amateur point of view covered as well.

No one said that promoting greatness was easy.

[Via Believe Me, I Have No Idea What I'm Talking About, Expectancy Violations Theory.]