Source: Niro Sivanathan
Published: May 2019
The dilution effect
Do you have trouble convincing others of your ideas? You may be experiencing the dilution effect, a cognitive phenomenon where nonessential details weaken an argument.
Our brains process information into two categories: diagnostic and non-diagnostic. Diagnostic information is relevant to an evaluation, while non-diagnostic information contains only superfluous or insignificant details.
For example, if making a judgment about whether Sophia is a good manager:
- Sophia clearly communicates expectations for members of her team.
- Sophia has one child
- Sophia has a corner office
- Sophia likes watching nature documentaries
When both forms of information are presented together, the dilution effect occurs. The non-diagnostic details water down the diagnostic information and your message loses potency.
To be more persuasive, stick to your strongest and most relevant information.