Altercasting: A Massively Effective Persuasion Trick

What is altercasting and What does altercasting mean?

Altercasting is when you use a social role or identity’s expected behavior to persuade someone to act or think a certain way. For example, “all smart people buy mac/pc computers,” or “no popular people like that band.”

Everyone wants the magical persuasion trick that instantly bends people to your will. That doesn’t exist. But if it did, it probably would be the technique we are discussing today.

This technique relies on a human being’s sense of identity. People are sculptures. We all craft images of ourselves based on the things we value. Some craft images of being a tough guy, craft an image of an intellectual. Studies have shown that if you can tap into a person’s sense of identity, or in other words the image that they create for themselves, your argument will have massive effects on behavior change. The technique is called altercasting.

How do you altercast?

Altercasting is done in 3 steps. First you must learn about your target’s identity. Second you must discover how your course of action helps your target support their desired identity. Third you must carefully pitch your course of action.

Step 1

So how do you do it? Step one is to understand what identity people are displaying to the world. To learn more about how to do this watch our video on learning what people want. For example, let’s pretend the person you are trying to persuade sees themself as a tough guy. He has the truck, the boots, and the attitude to match.

Step 2

Step two is to think about how your desired course of action would help this person achieve their identity. In our example, they want to appear more tough and avoid being seen as weak. If you are selling this person a cell phone, you would look for all your products that fit this identity. For example, tough looking cases and waterproof phones. If you were trying to persuade this person to eat at a restaurant, you would tell your tough friend about all the different types of meat they serve. Thus, whether you are selling them a phone or trying to convince them to go to a restaurant, you need to explain how the behavior will make them appear more like the identity they value.

Step 3

Once you understand the image the person is conveying, and how your desired course of action might boost that person’s image, you need to carefully convey this message to them. For example, if you wanted to get your friend to eat at the restaurant, tell them how you remember all the amazing types of steaks you saw, and how one time you saw a clan of really cool looking Harleys parked outside. If you are selling a phone, you might tell a story of a power lifter friend that used to throw his phone at people and it never broke because of the case he purchased from you.

The key to persuading using altercasting is to tactfully say “all people I know who are X, act like Y.”

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