Behavioral Grooves Podcast

Jonathan Mann: Integrating Behavioral Science into User Experience

June 16, 2019

The role of the User Experience (UX) designer is growing in corporations around the world. UX Designers have a great deal of influence over how a customer CAN take an action. Relatedly, behavioral scientists are interested in addressing the issue of WILL a customer take an action. What if the two were fused?

In this episode, Jonathan Mann explores ways in which the UX designer and the behavioral scientist can merge into one, combining the CAN and WILL elements for more effective – and ethical – marketing messages. He relates his experiences from studies he performed at PayPal under the direction of renowned researcher Robert Cialdini, PhD. Their work applied the element of social proof to advertising that increased validation – the act of connecting a bank account to a PayPal account – with a dramatic effect. Millions of dollars of compounding annual revenue materialized after A/B testing a variety of messages.

Jonathan cleverly leverages The Year of the Shark and the terrific elephant & rider metaphor to drive home the important message that marketing will be most successful when it appeals to both the rider (the rational part of the brain) and the elephant (the emotional part of the brain).

In the grooving session, Kurt & Tim discuss the ethical application of such powerful tools and what songs we might use for priming in particular situations.

Special thanks to Stefani Simon, president of Inprela Public Relations, for hosting this event:


Jonathan Mann:

Jonathan’s Deck from the presentation:


Robert Cialdini, PhD:


Summer of the Shark Video:

Jonathan Haidt / Elephant and the Rider:

Ovid, Metamorphisis:

Discount Distance Congruity Effect (Coulter & Norberg):

Visual Depiction Event (Coulter):

Auditory Price Perception Effect (Coulter):


All definitions of Behavioral Science Principles including Present Bias, Availability Heuristic, Social Proof among others can be found at:

Cialdini Hotel Towel reuse:

Cialdini 6 Principles of Persuasion:


“Don’t Make Me Think,” by Steve Krug:

“People are People,” By Depeche Mode:



Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and

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