Identity Labeling

Identity labeling works by planting a trait in the person that is useful to you and that can be used against them later. Examples include:

  • “You look like the type of person that invests in products like these”;
  • “You look like you heavily invest in your education”;
  • “You look like the type of person that recognizes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when you see it”;

It’s important to understand you can’t just invent traits. The person must have them to some degree, even if not explicitly.

Underlying Psychology/Biases

This works as, after you throw out the label, the goal is for the person to acknowledge it. The more they acknowledge it, the more they identify with this trait, and the more you can use it against them later.


Besides labeling a trait, there are two key accelerators that help consolidate this technique:

  • The first is to have the person confirm it
    • The difference between saying, “You look like you care about your family”, and saying, “You look like you care about your family, am I wrong?” and them replying, “Yes, I do”;
  • The second one is to congratulate them on it
    • When people are congratulated on a trait, they consolidate it;
    • The best way to cultivate a trait in a person that doesn’t have it yet is to congratulate them on it;


  • Saying, “You look like [ABC]”
    • Can be used in a good or bad way. Usually used in an obvious, shady way by salesmen;
    • “You look like the type of person that wants to buy this product”;
  • Saying, “You really do seem like [ABC]”
    • Very used by interviewers when they’re hearing about the interviewee’s life story;
    • After hearing multiple experiences around a trait, saying, “You really look like someone who has been an activist for human rights throughout your whole life, right?”;
  • Asking, “How are you [ABC]?”
    • A reverse example. Frequently asked by interviewers in job interviews. The candidate is the one labeling themselves with a trait;
    • The interviewer is trying to dig deep and test that trait;
  • Congratulating someone on a trait they don’t have. “I love it when you’re on time”
    • If there’s someone you know that’s chronically late, congratulating them on the few times they are on time will make them cultivate that more;

Commercial/Known Uses

Key Takeaways

  • Identity labeling is all about planting the traits you want in the person, that can later be used against them, for example, for objection handling;
  • The second is that identity labeling is a type of intent labeling. The more a person makes real, in the first person, that they have a trait, the more they will be trapped in it later;
  • The trait you’re labeling must be there to a degree. You can’t label something they truly are not;