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Decoding Personality: Why We Compete, Reward & Buy

Posted By Anthony Garcia On September 20, 2007 @ 10:22 am In Articles,Psychographics,psychology | 13 Comments

trophy.JPG [1]Recently, I’ve had several conversations with clients about rewards and why we compete. So, when I came across this snippet from Lifehack.org [2], it prompted me to share a different perspective:

Author of “Motivation from the Inside Out: Rethinking Rewards, Assessment, and Learning” and “Beyond Bribes and Threats: Realistic Alternatives to Controlling Students’ Behavior”, Alfie Kohn wrote this piece [2] for the New York Times in 1993 about rewards in the workplace not motivating employees the right way.

Kohn suggests that these rewards act the exact same as punishments and create negative work environments.

I call BS on this simplistic presumption. The problem isn’t the reward itself. The problem is misunderstanding the person’s motivations and thereby offering the wrong reward.

Our whole lives are motivated by an internal sense of worth, measured by “rewards” — both internal and external. We’re each addicted to our own reward system. It stains every action we take.

The same applies to the buying process, and to your website.

Creating personas, profiles, and buying perspective for our clients is what we do each day [3] at Future Now. This work is based on our instrument of choice, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator [4]. Myers-Briggs is commonly used among psychologists, and has the largest database of respondents. Millions take this test annually.

According to the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (define [5]) — which is based on Myers-Briggs but inspired by the ancient Greeks — people default to four primary temperaments:

  • The Artisan (“SP”; Sensing-Perceiving)
  • The Rationalist (“NT”; iNtuitive-Thinking)
  • The Idealist (“NF”; iNtuitive-Feeling)
  • The Guardian (“SJ”; Sensing-Judging)

In our work we focus tightly on how people prefer to behave in the buying process, so we label each temperaments differently to reflect just that. In Future Now-speak:

  • The Spontaneous (“SP”; Sensing-Perceiving)
  • The Competitive (“NT”; iNtuitive-Thinking)
  • The Humanistic (“NF”; iNtuitive-Feeling)
  • The Methodical (“SJ”; Sensing-Judging)

People tend to be surprised when they test themselves and find they’re an SP, SJ or NF. At this point, they’ll often say something like “Well, this doesn’t make sense… I’m extremely competitive!” Of course, most of the successful people we work with often are. Just because you’re not an “NT Competitive” doesn’t mean you don’t compete fiercely; you just compete for different reasons and different rewards.

The Spontaneous often competes and is primarily motivated by the thrill of the winning experience, the adrenaline rush.

The Competitive often competes and is primarily motivated by big-picture status, the trophy on the shelf.

The Humanistic often competes and is primarily motivated by the success of the team, one for all.

The Methodical often competes and is primarily motivated by the satisfaction of a job well done, winning is it’s own reward.

Of course, you’ll likely see a little bit of yourself in each of these — depending on the situation — but you may find one more appealing than the others.

Does this apply to your website? Of course!

Since buying usually triggers reward centers in the brain, these four types of motivations are relevant to the buying process. If you promise the wrong rewards, you’ll create a negative buying experience. Here’s somethings you can do in your product descriptions:

For the Spontaneous, briefly describe the thrill/experience the product provides.

For the Competitive, show them how the product will advance their goals.

For the Humanistic, show them how the product will positively affect others.

For the Methodical, describe in detail how the product will help them get things right.

If you have a minute, share some examples with us of websites that push your reward button — and let us know your temperament. Not sure of your own type? Take an anonymous (and free) online test [6].


Article printed from Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow: http://www.grokdotcom.com

URL to article: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/09/20/why-we-compete-reward-and-buy/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.grokdotcom.com/wp-content/uploads/Anthony/trophy.JPG

[2] snippet from Lifehack.org: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/rewards-dont-motivate.html

[3] we do each day: http://www.futurenowinc.com/consultingservices.htm

[4] Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my%2Dmbti%2Dpersonality%2Dtype/mbti%2Dbasics/

[5] define: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keirsey_Temperament_Sorter

[6] Take an anonymous (and free) online test: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp

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