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Coercion or compassion?

A fascinating post-interview chat between the UK Health Minister Sajid Javid MP & Sky News reporter Jon Craig provides some interesting Behavioural Science insights. An innocent question from Javid about whether Craig has had his third vaccine leads to an interesting exchange, which culminates in the Minister accompanying the journalist into the vaccination centre they are standing outside, to get his vaccine.



Source: @SkyNews on Twitter


Politics aside — and I know some people won't be able to resist making cynical remarks or policy critiques — I'm interested in the human dynamics here. Because Javid displays an innate understanding of what is likely to persuade Craig to get his vaccine.


He displays empathy in showing interest in the reporter's story — understanding *why* he hasn't got the vaccine — and then progressively removes the elements of friction that might prevent Craig from going.


Javid points out that under the new rules — which, I think would have formed part of the interview — Craig is now entitled to an immediate booster vaccine, thus removing the classic 'compliance' excuse of 'but the rules say I can't'. He then helps the reporter make a plan for when he will go and creates a commitment device ('promise me you'll go') before he realises that it might actually be possible for Craig to get one immediately.


Craig says he's got things to do and Javid offers to call his office for him. Finally, he accompanies Craig into the vaccination centre — in part to make sure he goes, but also to reassure him. And yes — welcome back to the cynics here! — probably to ensure the reporter doesn't get turned away and thereby create an embarrassing story.


Some very effective persuasion going on here and on a basic level, it's a very human response. You'd expect nothing less from a politician, but that doesn't mean we can't learn some valuable lessons.


On a personal note, it also made me aware that you can now get walk-in appointments for booster vaccines in the UK 🇬🇧. So, this morning I went to the same centre and had mine done. I would've gone anyway, but not needing to book an appointment a few weeks out, made me go today.


Did I miss or misinterpret anything? Let me know in the comments.

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