Influencing Others: Using the Psychology of Persuasion to Improve Animal Advocacy

MONDAY, APRIL 10, 1:00-2:30PM

Sheryl Fink, Director, Canadian Wildlife Campaigns, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Res Krebs, Campaigns and Communications Specialist, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

The science and psychology of persuasion has long been studied by marketers, advertisers and sales professionals in their quest to influence consumers. As animal advocates who also wish to persuade others to our point of view, we can benefit from a deeper understanding of the principles of persuasion and how key influencing tactics function on the human psyche. Whether we are raising funds to support our cause, leading grassroots campaigns for change, or working to influence the political system, the tactics and techniques of persuasion can help us to be more successful in creating a better world for the animals we wish to protect.

Using examples from current animal welfare campaigns, we will consider how the tactics of reciprocation, consistency, social validation, liking, authority and scarcity have previously been used to great success in animal advocacy. Drawing on our experiences in advocacy, including campaigns to end the commercial seal hunt, to pass animal-oriented legislation and to change behaviour to promote adequate guardianship of dogs and cats, we will identify and examine new ways to apply these principles in our daily efforts to protect animals. The presentation will be highly interactive, soliciting examples and techniques from the audience to improve everyone’s understanding of the principles of persuasion and how they can be applied.

Three Key Learnings:
1. The principles of persuasion are scientifically proven approaches which can help us to persuade others to our point of view
2. Most of us are unaware of these principles, how they act upon us or how to use them – awareness of the principles is required if we are to improve our efforts for animals
3. Applying the principles of persuasion in animal advocacy can help us to influence others in a positive, fair and moral way

As IFAW’s Director of Wildlife Campaigns in Canada, Sheryl Fink’s primary focus is ending the commercial seal hunt on the East Coast. Sheryl also works on other animal welfare issues affecting wildlife within the country. She has been active in campaigns to educate the public on the threats facing Canada’s polar bears, the live capture of marine mammals for captivity, the exotic pet trade and commercial exploitation of animals and ecological sustainability.

Res (Andreas) Krebs is a political communications professional based in Toronto. As a campaigner and strategist, Res blends analytical chops and creative juices to produce persuasive and thought-provoking materials supporting IFAW Canada’s campaigns. He is also the communications lead for IFAW’s Companion Animals Program. Res has been instrumental in moving IFAW’s campaign against the commercial seal hunt into Newfoundland, approaching Newfoundlanders as potential allies in ending the hunt once and for all, and producing campaign materials that are palatable to the distinct political appetites of Newfoundlanders. In the past, he has worked as a consultant and researcher for a number of First Nations, and as a communications strategist for national non-profits and unions. He has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Ottawa.