The importance of psychology in writing (and business)

BY Amanda Smith


16 August 2018

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Think about the last time you read something powerful. Maybe it was a line that has stuck in your mind for years. One of my favourite lines is by the famous fifties author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In his timeless book, ‘100 Years of Solitude’, he wrote “time was not passing… it was turning in a circle.”

Why did this line attach itself to my memory, cycling back into my awareness? Probably because of my fascination with time. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent exploring my relationship with time, how we all choose to use it, and the strategies we take to slow it down.

What gives words power is their ability to connect, resonate, and come alive in a reader’s mind – facilitating a captivating journey that feels real. What about seeing an ad for the new iPhone? Those ad writers don’t just create campaigns that convey the features and benefits. Their words (and imagery) will speak to your emotions, not your logic – making you consider what life would feel like if you had that product.

To millennials, Apple isn’t selling a phone. They’re selling status.

Consider the psychology of your audience

All good writing goes beyond the product (or service) itself. There are plenty of companies selling phones. So, how are you going to make yours stand out? You focus on your audience, communicating how your phone will impact their lives. This is where you can bring in the subtle edge your company has.

Don’t talk about a one-year returns policy. But let your customer feel that you know their frustration of having to return a product after just six months…then bring in yours as the solution.

If you take the time to explore and know your customers and align your writing to psychological principles, you can create content that actually has a voice.

Next time you’re writing a piece, consider adding the psychological hooks to help your message connect.


We’re told to never give things away for free. But if someone goes out of their way to help you, what’s the first thing you want to do? You guessed it – help them back. If you create genuinely useful content and resources for your audience, they’re more likely to visit your website, call you or even buy something when they’re ready.

Us vs. Them

As humans, we love to be part of something exclusive, to belong. Tap into this psychological tactic by giving your customers preferential treatment. Of course, you don’t want to play the us vs. them game to be offensive and rule people out. What I’m talking about is giving your people first-class treatment so you make them feel the way your competitors don’t.

Social proof

People often buy on their emotions, but their logical side needs to be satisfied too. Because they’ll probably start to question whether it’s a ‘smart’ decision. We look around us to other people for help when it comes to making decisions. This is where social proof comes in. Think about testimonials, reviews, and growing a social following.

Availability cascade

You know what catchy jingle that’s still in your head, years later? You’ve probably heard it a hundred times. The more something’s repeated, the more you’re likely to believe it. This is why advertising is so powerful.

The more you allow the psychology of your audience to guide the way you communicate, the stronger the connection you’ll make. It doesn’t matter which channel you’re talking to your customers on or what your competitors are doing. Incorporate psychology, empathy and emotions into your writing, like these principles covered as well as scarcity, authority, and consistency.

Understand human behaviour and you’ll reach people in ways that no ‘top-10 list’ can.

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