Why did so many people in the UK and Europe hold off getting their AstraZeneca Covid vaccine – even though all the data showed it was a good idea?
Well, people heard two different things:
- “The chances of this vaccine giving you a blood clot are 0.004%.”
- “My neighbour’s daughter was rushed to hospital with a blood clot on her brain the day after having her vaccine. She had this terrible headache and then collapsed in the kitchen. Luckily my neighbour was there to call an ambulance. She went into intensive care and it was very touch and go. She’s only 34.”
Now, what can you remember? The stats, or the story?
And how do you feel about having that vaccine now? Would you go and get it today?
Why stories are powerful
The thing is, humans aren’t rational. We remember stories much better than statistics. And our decision-making is actually driven by our emotions.
Stories evoke emotions and that drives us to make a decision (maybe I’ll look into this vaccine a bit more first…) and take an action (I won’t go to my vaccine appointment today).
Charities have access to two types of information they can share in their campaign material: statistics about the impact of their work, and human interest stories about real people they have helped.
“48.5% of young people have experienced online bullying. 89% of them said our workshops had helped to restore their confidence – so please give to our work.”
This charity is obviously doing really great work but these statistics send the reader’s brain into maths mode. That’s too rational; not a place from which they are likely to take action.
They would be much better off sharing the personal story of just one of these young people. Perhaps Josh talking about the shame he felt after being targeted online by some kids in his year. How he was too scared to tell anyone. How he finally felt able to open up about it at the charity’s workshop and knew he wasn’t alone. How he got his confidence and spark back. Would you give to that work?
The bad news is, you’re not as rational as you like to think you are. The good news is, charities have amazing real-life stories to tell, and stories have power.