Priming someone based on initiative simply means making the person do something to become closer to you (or your offering). This will make them like it more just because they took action.

  • The more the person invests in taking that action, the more qualified they will be;

Underlying Psychology/Biases

This works due to the principle of consistency. Because the person is taking action towards something, they will stay consistent with that image and keep investing more into that thing – attention, effort, or actual money.


There are usually two key methods to leverage initiative:

  • Asking for an action or an opinion from the person that is related to your value proposition
    • Asking for their opinion, what they like about it, which product out of the possible ones they would buy, etc;
    • It works especially well when the person has to crystalize what they like about your product;
  • Making them participate in a selective event
    • Contests, events, sweepstakes, or just negotiating against other people;
    • This has the effect of them taking action plus competing for your value proposition, which makes them value it more;



  • Sweepstakes
    • Participating in events, competitions or sweepstakes make you value a thing more, because you’re both putting in action but also competing for something;
    • Make someone participate in a contest for an iPhone, and they will leave the contest liking iPhones a lot more, whether they like it or not;
  • The “IKEA Effect”
    • People liking furniture more just because they’re the one assembling it;
  • User manuals
  • Adopting animals
    • Not the direct kind – adopting a protected species by naming one specimen;
    • This usually doesn’t involve money itself – it may – but the bigger effect is the one of you putting in the effort to name an animal, which will keep you investing more and more;


  • Free Work
    • When starting out, many consultants and coaches do free work;
    • But the key here is that some of them use this the smart way. They ask for referrals or reviews in return for this;
    • You’re forcing the person to put initiative in order to obtain this instead of just obtaining it;

Commercial/Known Uses

  • The “IKEA effect“. People liking furniture more just because they assembled it themselves;

Key Takeaways

  • Initiative is based on the fact that doing something related to a thing will make us like that thing more – subconsciously or not;
  • The simplest ways to leverage this principle are to, for example, ask for a simple action or a simple opinion from the person;
  • This effect can be accelerated with selection events. If the person not only has to put in effort but also compete with others, the effect is magnified;