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  • Writer's pictureDavid de Souza

The Catalyst - 80/20 Summary

Updated: Feb 20, 2022


Mental Models from the book:

'The Catalyst' can be summarised into 11 mental models:

1. Action & Reaction: Newton's 3rd Law
  • When our choices are taken away or threatened, we react against this loss of control. To gain back control and to feel autonomous, we often engage in the forbidden behavior.

2. Association
  • Reframe things as regaining a loss. For example with BREXIT and 'Regaining control'.

3. Choice Architecture
  • We prefer choice even if it makes us worse off. For example: People preferred to make the choice when to turn off life support even though they felt worse compared to a doctor making the decision.

  • When given just one option people will find holes in it. By giving multiple options you divert their brain to thinking about which option is best.

4. Commitment & Consistency Bias
  • Highlight a discrepancy between what a person might recommend others to do and what they are doing. This technique works because we strive for consistency. We want our beliefs and behaviors to align.

5. Critical Mass
  • If information is within peoples' 'zone of acceptance', then that information will work to change peoples' minds. If information is outside the person's 'zone of acceptance' then the information will not persuade and it will often have a backfire effect and people become even more certain their initial thinking is correct. The solution is a more moderate appeal.

6. Denial
  • Viewpoints that are too extreme fall into peoples' 'region of rejection' and get discounted.

7. Emotions: Uncertainty
  • The more ambiguity there is around an idea/event/product, the less valuable that thing becomes. This is the uncertainty tax.

  • Overcome uncertainty by using trials of products or services.

8. Inversion
  • Recovery is often faster from severe injuries compared to minor ones because with a severe injury we get it treated straight away. With minor injuries, we put it off and the problem isn't fixed.

9. Resistance
  • When it comes to change, people usually add heat and pressure but rarely think about removing barriers.

10. Scarcity
  • Jurors who are told to disregard evidence weigh it more heavily.

11. Social Proof
  • Multiple sources of recommendation do not have much of a difference if they are similar (for example an extra family member or coworker) because it is not about how many others, it's about additional information.


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