Cheerleader effect

Theory explained by Sander Volbeda and written by Drew Walker and Edward Vul

A cheerleader effect is a cognitive bias in human psychology that presents the idea that we find representations of people in groups much more attractive than an individual person. Therefore, some people call this bias the ‘group attractiveness effect.’ According to the psychologists, this tendency occurs as the asymmetries or disproportionalities of people are less likely to be noticed or highlighted in a group of faces than in an individual face.

There is a famous research done to assess the impact of cheerleader effect in human decision making published in the ‘Psychological Science’ journal in 2013. The research was progressed based on five sub experiments using the photographs of people. Pictures of people in groups and pictures of singular persons were presented to respondents who resembled different demographics. For example, there were respondents of opposite genders and of different age groups. The result was quite mesmerizing as for both men and women the more attractive pictures were the pictures of people in groups, not the pictures of individuals. The result was similar in different age groups as well. Most importantly, the respondents were not concerned with the number factor in group images to influence their decisions.

Why are images important?

Knowing this tendency of human psychology is very important for the content creators and web designers to fine-tune their visual content to attract more customers. Without a second argument, images play a vital role to influence our perception on something or someone better than texts. This is because our brains possess the ability to process images 60,000 times faster than textual content. Also, out of the information transmitted to our brains at a given time, 90% are visuals. This explains why our primary method of understanding information is said to be via the images. Therefore, the influence that an image can do on consumer behavior can never be overlooked and should be addressed with care. That’s why many digital marketers are very much concerned about image related biases in human psychology such as the cheerleader effect to influence their customers towards the Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

How to use the cheerleading effect to the favor of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

Change the banner of your landing page

The banner of a web page is the focal point of user attraction. You can use an image of a group of people in the banner. BUT, it should make sense! Using a photo of a group of people for the sake of doing it will not help you in conversion. Convey the value you create through the facial expressions of the people in the image. Your image should be authentic to you, therefore don’t depend on stock photos. The more the reality is involved in your web images, the more the clarity you can create on your value proposition.

Embed a few testimonials together in a frame

There are many benefits that multiple testimonials in a single frame have to offer you rather than presenting a solitary testimonial. As a rule of thumb, many testimonials offer more confidence to your target audience in choosing you over the competition. Secondly, you can mix low quality testimonials with the best ones to convey an overall positive impression. Well, this happens as a result of the cheerleader effect only. As a result of this bias, we are more bound to group images; therefore the poor facial expressions will not be highlighted when presented amidst others. This is what you call being smart in communication. Assume what would happen if you had to post that individual testimonial with that non-thrilled face? Of course, anyone who pays closer attention will notice that forced look! Image optimization is absolutely vital for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

Tinder and the cheerleader effect

Tinder, as a dating app gets the maximum advantage of this cognitive bias in order to influence their customers towards more conversions. Think about it! Would it be appealing if Tinder presents their clients one by one rather than showing a number of faces together? Given the understanding that beauty is defined in different perspectives in different cultures, it doubles the reason why dating apps should use the cheerleader effect to work on the Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

Wrap Up

The cheerleader effect is a tendency in human psychology in which we tend to attract images of people in groups over the images of individuals. This cognitive bias can be used to influence consumer decisions in digital marketing, if you are smart enough to optimize it to the favor of you to communicate your values to the target audience. Rightly communicated values mean more conversions!

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References

The references contain experiments and studies that prove this bias is there.

1. Hierarchical Encoding Makes Individuals in a Group Seem More Attractive
2. Hierarchical Encoding Makes Individuals in a Group Seem More Attractive
3. A Group’s Physical Attractiveness Is Greater Than the Average Attractiveness of Its Members: The Group Attractiveness Effect

Sources

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