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  • Writer's pictureDavid de Souza

'Made to Stick' - 80/20 Summary

Updated: Feb 13, 2022


Mental Models from the book:

I have summarised 'Made to Stick', distilling the book into 11 mental Models:

1. Commitment & Consistency Bias

  • Use ideas & concepts that people already understand. Schemas increase memory and comprehension.

2. Curiosity Instinct

  • The Gap Theory: Gaps cause pain that we try and fix/close. Create a mental gap in your story to create curiosity.

  • Urban legends don't have to be repeated. If you have to repeat something maybe it wasn't interesting or sticky.

3. Emotions

  • Statistics don't produce emotion. Bring them to life by making them more relatable or human.

3.1 Emotions: Mystery

  • 'Mystery is created not from an unexpected moment but from an unexpected journey. We know where we're headed - we want to solve the mystery- but we're not sure how we'll get there. Mysteries are powerful because they create a desire for closure.

4. Incentives

  • We can make people care about our ideas by:

    1. Appeal to self-interest.

    2. Appeal to their identities.

    3. Appeal to the person they want to be.

    4. Not being analytical.

    5. Creating empathy for 1 specific person (not a group).

    6. Highlight that the idea is associated with something they already feel strongly about.

5. Narrative Instinct

  • Folk legends are credible because local details are added.

6. Niches

  • If you try and argue 10 different points, none will be remembered. Find the single most important point.

7. Newton's 3rd Law: Action & Reaction

  • For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. People will often respond by fighting back to a direct message. Stories are an indirect form of messaging that work under the radar of persuasion.

8. Pareto Principle

  • 90% of award-winning ads use the same 6 templates. A group of novices were trained for 2 hours on how to use a template. Their ads were 50% more creative compared to the professionals.

  • The 3 basic templates that account for 60-80% of all stories.

    1. The Challenge Plot: Contains obstacles that are daunting. This story inspires using courage and perseverance to overcome obstacles.

    2. The Connection Plot: A story about people that connects different demographics. This plot makes us want to help and be tolerant of others. This plot is about relationships with people.

    3. The Creativity Plot: This story's plot involves solving a problem that has been around for a long time.

9. Social Proof

  • People make decisions based on their identity, norms, and principles. They ask themselves: What do people like me (environmentalist/mothers/Firemen) do in situations like this?

10. The Map is Not the Territory

  • We often try and increase accuracy to the point of uselessness. We should provide enough information to be useful and then a little more as needed.

11. Vividness Bias

  • Abstract nouns are not as easy to remember as concrete ones, for example: car vs empathy.

  • Asking someone to test a claim is vivid and a powerful form of persuasion.


Mental Model Mind Maps

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