Priming is Powerful

What do you really want? is a weekly conversation to help product leaders grow in influence and get better at the people side of product.

Priming can be a powerful persuasion tool. Perception is influenced greatly by the way something is introduced. This applies in many areas: product, marketing, management, and even parenting.

You prime a physical pump to lower the energy it takes to get to flow. Priming can have the same influence in other domains.

One of the most fascinating studies I've ever read that shows the true power of priming is about wine tasting and MRI machines.

Researchers had subjects taste wine while in an MRI machine. The trick was that subjects were told about the price of the wine before they tasted it. Where things get crazy is that they kept giving participants the same wine ($12/bottle). Researchers then told recipients that they would be tasting either a $3, $6, or $18 wine.

With the MRI machine, they saw that participants reaction to price went beyond just thinking it might taste better. The subjects’ bodies physiologically responded differently based on how they thought it would taste.

The measurements of brain activity in the MRI scanner confirmed this. The research team discovered that above all parts of the medial pre-frontal cortex and also the ventral striatum were activated more when prices were higher.

The subjects’ brains actually perceived something different just because of how they were primed. How you introduce something matters.

What could you better prime in your life?

Read more about how you can use priming can impact the people you work with

What have you been learning about? I ask this of my kids every dinner and love to hear a couple quick sentences from other avid learners.


Other interesting ideas I learned about this week: