Babies prefer helpful people to the nastier kind. New research from Yale University’s Infant Cognition Center shows that in almost all cases babies as young as six months old show a distinct preference for things which help others. In the experiments, puppets and objects are shown trying to achieve something, such as going up a hill, or passing a ball to each other. Sometimes a puppet helps the central character in the experiment and on other occasions another puppet does something comparatively nasty, such as running away with the ball. After the demonstration the babies are given the objects; in almost all cases they reject the nasty puppet and go straight for the helpful one. Indeed in one experiment detailed in a recent edition of the New York Times Magazine a baby chose the nice puppet but actually hit the head of the nasty one, such was their revulsion to it.
According to the researchers the studies suggest we either have an inbuilt preference for “prosocial behaviour” – where people help each other – or we learn very quickly following birth that such behaviour is more acceptable. Other studies in older age groups confirm that we prefer helpful people to nasty people. Today, for instance, just wonder how many staff at British Airways actually like their boss Willie Walsh, who is seemingly exhibiting the opposite of prosocial behaviour by appearing to prevent his staff from doing what they want.
As ever, co-operation, helpfulness and altruism win you more friends than fighting, taking a stand or working against people in some way.
So, how does this all pan out for bloggers? Take a look at those blogs which are successful in your area, for instance. According to the blog directory, Technorati, the world’s most read blog on finance is called Frugal Dad. Take a look at that blog; it is just full of helpfulness and advice. In the world of cars, the most read blog is Autoblog; again, it’s full of advice, help, support and ideas. And in the world of social media, the most popular blog is Social Media Examiner – again, just packed with helpfulness. It’s clear; the most read blogs are really, really helpful and supportive. They exhibit prosocial blogging.
It’s obvious really; if, as the Yale research suggests, we have an early established preference for prosocial behaviour it should be no surprise that we prefer blogs which help us. Bloggers that help, support and exhibit prosocial tendencies will be the ones we prefer. After all, how many blogs do you read which simply pump out sales messages or give thinly disguised “reviews” of products which they sell as affiliate marketers? There aren’t many of those blogs that get mass readership.
If you want your business blog to succeed it’s dead easy. Stop writing about your company, stop writing about your activities and stop writing about your products and services. Instead, start writing about those things which will directly help your readers. Show that you are doing everything you can to help them and they will prefer your blog over competing ones in the same sector.
They have to – it’s been inbuilt in their brains since they were six months old. It’s nature.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+