• David de Souza

'Made to Stick' - 80/20 Summary

Updated: Oct 5


  • Score: 7/10

  • Category: StoryTelling

  • Mental Models: Commitment & Consistency Bias, Curiosity Instinct, EgO, Emotions: Mystery, Narrative Instinct, Niches, Newton's 3rd Law, Pareto Principle, Social Proof, The Map is Not the Territory, Vividness Bias





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. Ego


We can make people care about our ideas by:

  • Appeal to self-interest.

  • Appeal to their identities.

  • Appeal to the person they want to be.

  • Not being analytical.

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

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

4. Emotions


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

4.1 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.


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.


Let me know how these summaries can be improved? Contact me via Email (david@thisdomain.co) or on Twitter.



10 views0 comments
The 80/20 of Worldly Wisdom:

Thanks for submitting!