Why You Need a Picture of a Runner

It’s almost part of office culture. It’s in parts of the military, in the private sector, federal and state government, and even non-profits.

You’ve seen it. The office with the funny picture or quote about how bad things work, wishing it was Friday (or Wednesday), bad bosses, inconsiderate coworkers…almost fashioned in a parody of “The Office” (which itself is a parody of cubicle life).

It’s self-reinforcing. See the world that way and you see the world only that way.

Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence” and “Pre-suasion”, cites research where telephone solicitors were given a list of ways to ask for donations from college alumni. Half of the workers received the list with a blank reverse. The other half got a list with a picture of a runner winning a race on the back. The solicitors with the picture earned 60% more donations than the other group. This was repeated by other researchers with similar results.

You choose your picture.


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