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The Psychology of

How to choose the right words and syntax


Bag of chips with 10 grams, and "grams" is replaced with "pieces"

Choose Words That Are Easy to Imagine

Customers need to imagine your product to simulate the value they would receive from it

"Durable" is crossed out

Replace Vague Benefits With Concrete Examples

Vague benefits are difficult to imagine.

Chatting with customer support specialist. They say: Your order is confirmed. Then the word "order" is replaced with "jeans

Tailor Your Words to the Scenario

Customized responses are more persuasive.

Storage container. Instead of saying store "food," it lists concrete examples (e.g., leftovers, fruit, veggies)

Offer Relevant Applications of a Product

Concrete examples (e.g., fruit) are more persuasive than broad examples (e.g., food).

If you...

Immerse Readers into the Hypothetical Behavior

Depict a hypothetical scenario of the desired action.

"Doesn't leak" is replaced with "leak-proof"

Depict Information With Positive Frames

Negative frames instill a mental image of the negative event.

The bird was flying in the sky with emphasis on bird, flying, sky

Distribute Semantically Related Words

Each word will strengthen activation for the related words.

A bucket of zal fried chicken

Remove Meaningless Words From Product Descriptions

Products seem more expensive (yet worse in quality) when described with unfamiliar words.


"Loved by clients" is replaced with "clients love us"

Construct Sentences With Active Voice

Active sentences position causes before effects, a sequence that matches our real-world experience.


Bind Sentences With Connective Words

Connective words maintain the flow of mental imagery.

End of sentence has the word "image" because this word is concrete

End Sentences With a Concrete Image

"When are you leaving" is better than "What time are you leaving at?"

End of sentence being used as beginning of next sentence

Begin Sentences With the Previous Object

Sentences are easier to read when they start with the mental image from the end of the previous sentence.

Two thought bubbles emerging from same sentence is bad.

Constrain Your Writing to a Single Interpretation

Arrange your words so that only one interpretation is possible.


Sentence that says "It's easy:" should be followed by a sentence that, itself, it quick and easy.

Convey the Message Using Linguistic Traits

If your sentence is depicting something as easy, the sentence itself should be easy to read.

Sentence says "Chair that is soft" with "that is" crossed out to signify the chair will seem softer if the word "chair" is closer to the word "soft"

Bring Descriptors Closer to Referents

A chair seems more comfortable when the words “chair” and “comfortable” are closer together.

Bufferil Eases Pain

Sequence Words in Alphabetical Order

Something just feels right, and we attribute this feeling to the semantic meaning.

Was __ing

Portray Actions With Imperfect Verbs

Imperfect verbs (e.g., was painting) are more vivid because they depict ongoing actions.

Different lengths and color of blocks to symbolize word diversity

Diversify Your Words, Syntax, and Emotions

Inject variety into your writing.

Sling seats replaced with sling chairs

Alternate the Phonetic Flow of Words

You read by speaking words inside your head. If something is hard to say aloud – Red leather, yellow leather – it will be hard to read.

"Product is great!" with exclamation mark crossed out

Delete Exclamation Points

If you need an exclamation mark to convey excitement, your writing isn’t exciting enough.

Replaces the phrase "computerized phone" with "smart phone." This change produces a face within a phone graphic

Existing Customers Prefer Humanlike Descriptions

Loyal customers prefer humanized words (e.g., intuitive, elegant) because they identify with these products.


Navigation drop-down menu under "Who We Help" with links to "Teachers", "Trainers", and "Students

Isolate Segments With Different Needs

Create separate pages for each customer segment so that you can address their specific needs.

But you are free

Emphasize Their Autonomy in the Decision

People are less likely to comply if they believe that you are trying to persuade them.

"Product is safe" is replaced with certification

Describe the Benefits Indirectly

Communicate safety with certifications and endorsements, rather than telling customer your product is safe.

List of pros and cons

Mention Drawbacks of the Behavior

Readers prefer “two-sided arguments” that describe the benefits and drawbacks.

Ever feel anxious?

Ask Rhetorical Questions

Rhetorical questions are persuasive because they generate an implicit response.

Protect your family

Demonstrate an Impact on Other People

Hospital staff were more likely to wash their hands when a message framed the benefits toward patients (vs. themselves).

Person choosing a more expensive uberX ride that arrives at 1:58pm. The cheaper uber pool ride arrives at 2:01pm

Keep Waiting Periods From Passing a Round Number

1:58 PM feels much sooner than 2:01 PM

125% more feels like 25% more

"125% More" Feels Like "25% More"

A "more" percentage (e.g., 125% more) feels like an "of" percentage (e.g., 125% of).

Choose supply scarcity (e.g., limited editions) for experiences and luxury products, choose demand scarcity (e.g., only 2 left) for rational and cheap products, choose time scarcity (e.g., available until) for emotional and expensive products

Choose the Right Type of Scarcity

Each type of scarcity (supply, demand, time) affects behavior in different ways.