Which psychology theories are used to persuade users?



Hi guys,

as always it is a pleasure to be here in this forum!

Am I assuming right that to “persuade” users you have to know the basics of cognitive psychology?

Do you have any other psychology areas which are as well related?

I am writing my master thesis about this very important topic.

Best regards!


I would add:

  • Gestalt psychology, as a general design framework to organize things visually in such a way that it’s easily understood by users. It’s not a real persuasion, but anyway it pushes to see things in a certain desired way.
  • Social psychology, a an attempt to exploit social relations and self-identity and perception mechanism in social contexts (like social media).


I’d be looking into Behaviorism, BF Skinner, etc.


I second the mention of social psychology and would recommend the work of Dr Betsy Levy Paluck who teaches at Princeton and is a MacArthur award winner. Her work on social norms offers important lessons that I believe need to be factored in to any analysis of the role of social media.

I’d also mention the field of digital sociology - not psychology, to be sure, but a sister discipline.


UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) calls thus “predictive technology”which has formed a institute to study this field.

@Zerono this may be right up your ally after rereading your post here! Good luck!


Thank you all of you for your comments! I will do my research about it and tell you my progress if you someone wish for it!


@zerono Please do post about your project- this is a free thinking forum so feel free to “think out loud” and post about your process or whatever.


Check B.J. Foog. He is the Skinner of XXI century.

Nir Eyal a student of Foog and his book “Hooked How to Build Habit-Forming Product” is also very good source of information.


@Zerono. I just noticed this new member @Gaby mention persuasive research in the introductions… Perhaps a connection here could help?


@healthyswimmer thank you for the connection! I will talk with him!


I recommend you to read some books like Persuasion by Robert Cialdini or Driven by Dan H. Pink.

You can also read Dan Ariely’s books, he’s a great behavioral economist. And if you haven’t got enough, Dan Heath and Chip Heath have great, great books (my favorite is switch).