I sometimes sign online petitions. I find that it’s a quick and easy way to show support for something and I am happy to take a minute or two out of my day to do it. However, I have noticed that the websites running petitions often use a range of persuasion techniques to get me to do more than just sign – from guilt-tripping me into donating to telling me that several of my friends have shared the petition, so I should too. This particular example is of possibly the simplest persuasion technique – just asking. If you just ask someone to do you a favour, they often will do it. For instance, Hald and Hogh-Olesen (2010) found that nearly a third of men said yes when 'just asked' to go on a date with a female stranger. This petition cleverly manages to ‘just ask’ me twice – first, I have to click to say that I do not want to receive updates. Once I have done this, a little red message appears asking if I’m sure. I was sure, but that message still made me stop, think for a second, and nearly fall into the trap of just being asked!
Hald, G. M., & Hogh-Olesen, H. (2010). Receptivity to sexual invitations from strangers of the opposite gender. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31, 453-458.