Psychology of Influence and the Social Media Graph – Part 2


The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.


Scarcity – Purchase if quantities are perceived to be scarce

According to the scarcity principle, people assign more value to opportunities when they are less available. So, this law is almost always used in marketing and advertising. The use of this principle for profit can be seen in such compliance techniques as the “limited number” and “deadline” tactics, wherein practitioners try to convince us that access to what they are offering is restricted by amount or time. Simply stated, the ‘law of scarcity’ or ‘scarcity principle’ states that if what you desire is in limited supply or seemingly limited supply, its perceived value increases. This also increases the urge for people to want it and want it immediately. As practical examples of this law it is noteworthy the way Gmail or Spotify (or even the new facebook email) distributed like the bill become very desirable. Or release of any version of the playstation or the iPads or iPhones.

Marketers want to create a perception that their product is scarce by stating “for a limited time only” or “while supplies last”. Consumers start to feel like they need to take action now to get access to this product.

• The scarcity principle holds for two reasons:

  1. First, because things that are difficult to attain are typically more valuable, the availability of an item or experience can serve as a shortcut cue to its quality.
  2. Second, as things become less accessible, we lose freedoms. According to psychological reactance theory, we respond to the loss of freedoms by wanting to have them (along with the goods and services connected to them) more than before.

• As a motivator, psychological reactance is present throughout the great majority of the life span. However, it is especially evident at a pair of ages: the terrible twos and the teenage years. Both of these times are characterized by an emerging sense of individuality, which brings to prominence such issues as control, rights, and freedom.
Consequently, individuals at these ages are especially sensitive to restrictions.

• In addition to its effect on the valuation of commodities, the scarcity principle also applies to the way that information is evaluated. Research indicates that the act of limiting access to a message causes individuals to want to receive it more and to become more favorable to it. The latter of these findings—that limited information is more persuasive—seems the more surprising. In the case of censorship, this effect occurs even when the message has not been received. When a message has been received, it is more effective if it is perceived as consisting of exclusive information.

• The scarcity principle is most likely to hold true under two optimizing conditions.

(1) First, scarce items are heightened in value when they are newly scarce. That is, we value those things that have become recently restricted more than those that were restricted all along.

(2) Second, we are most attracted to scarce resources when we compete with others for them.

• It is difficult to steel ourselves cognitively against scarcity pressures because they have an emotion-arousing quality that makes thinking difficult. In defense, we might try to be alert to a rush of arousal in situations involving scarcity.
Once alerted, we can take steps to calm the arousal and assess the merits of the opportunity in terms of why we want it.


Relevant Post:

Psychology of Influence and the Social Media Graph – Part 1