How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
We tend to value a gain that is certain more than a gain that is less than certain, even when the expected value of each is the same. The opposite is even more true for losses: we will clutch at straws to avoid a certain loss, even if it means taking even greater risks.
In general, when we perceive higher risk we focus on loss, whilst when risk is seen to be lower, we switch to gains.
Tversky and Kahneman told people to assume there was disease affecting 600 people and they had two choices:
The majority of people selected A, showing a preference for certainty. They then offered them another choice:
Most people now selected D, seeking to avoid the loss of 400 people.
Notice how the framing makes the difference. A and C are the same, and B and D are the same.
To get people to adopt something, focus on the gain. To get them to reject something, focus on what they might lose.
If they perceive high risk, focus on loss. If they perceive low risk, focus on gain. If you want them to focus on loss or gain, then set up the perceived risk accordingly.
In your choices, beware of words leading you astray. Think in a balanced way about potential gains and losses.