Argue Your Way to Success

Scientists and economists tend to believe we are rational logical creatures but psychologists suggest we are driven more by emotion than logic.

The traditional view suggests human intelligence developed to help us solve complex problems and that clear, reasoned, logical thought was beneficial.

A more recent view suggests our ability to reason developed to help us argue our case, as the ability to argue increased our influence with the evolution of a more social and complex life.

The introduction of language developed our ability to persuade others but meant that argument, even biased argument, could win over logic and reason.

The relevance of our ability to argue, persuade and influence others can be seen in how we purchase products in today’s commercial market.

–       The ‘attraction effect’ suggests that when making a choice between options we don’t always choose the logical cheaper one, as we justify purchasing a more expensive item by arguing that we got a ‘bargain’.

–      ‘Confirmation bias’ suggests we tend to choose between selective facts to support our case while simply dismissing facts that disagree with our point of view.

–      The way a situation is ‘framed’ or presented to us influences our choice, as is the case in supermarkets when we buy ‘three-for-two’ offers and spend more money than is logically sensible.

Other irrational behaviours include issues such as: ‘sunk-cost fallacy’ – where we are reluctant to withdraw from a bad investment because we unrealistically hope to recoup our losses; ‘feature creep’ – where we buy more expensive products with more features than we need: think of the number of features offered by your mobile phone.

The ability to argue, albeit at times with flawed reasoning, has its benefits as it enables us to see the faulty logic of others and so counteract it.

The ability to test our arguments in group settings can lead to greater results, provided ideas aren’t dominated by vested interested or group think.

SO, we may see ourselves as rational and logical human beings but in an increasingly social and interdependent world our ability to argue, influence and persuade often leads to success.

What do you think? Do you argue your way to success? Get in touch, we would love to hear your views contact Nick on 028 8224 9494 or via Twitter @nick_oec.