The Elephant, the Rider and the Path
By Faisal Amjad

A great analogy for influence

Published in: Self
Date: 04 / 09 / 19

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt introduced a useful analogy for thinking about behaviour change. 

Look at the above picture. We have an elephant, a rider and a path. This is a representation of our brains. The rider, represents our rational, logical parts of the brain. The elephant represents our emotional side. Haidt’s analogy has it that the Rider is rational and can therefore see a path ahead while underneath him, the Elephant provides the power for the journey. However the Elephant is irrational and driven by emotion and instinct.

If you want to take the rider on a journey anywhere, it’s not enough to encourage just the rider - i.e. rational side alone, as he is not as powerful as the elephant - the emotional side. The path in this situation represents the external environment. 

Both the elephant and the rider are going to be more motivated to go to the destination if the path is made short for them, clear to follow and obstacles are removed. This is the essence of influence - and what copywriters and marketeers appeal to. 

We need to engage and motivate the emotional side to move, appeal to the rational side so they can see the direction to go in, and then make the process (path) to conversion easy to follow.

Faisal Amjad

About the author

A lifelong learner, avid reader and passionate writer, I am the founder of KNOW and a serial entrepreneur.
I am a huge believer in personal development and am also the co-founder of Muslim CEO.

Stay in the , subscribe to our newsletter.