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The psychology of influence: why values are more important than you think

By Alan Gray |



The Drum Network article

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February 14, 2022 | 4 min read

Values can be crucial in framing a brand’s priorities. Alan Gray, senior research psychologist at Tailify (whose research is available here), assesses psychologist Shalom Schwartz’s understanding of values and looks to influencers to consider the best ways in recognizing values.

Tailify on the power of values in the influencer economy.

Tailify on the power of values in the influencer economy

Ask a person what they value and you’ll get all sorts of answers. There are literally hundreds of value-related words, and the boundaries between each can be unclear. Is ‘honesty’ the same as ‘sincerity’? And how are we to define when one value becomes another?

Enter Shalom Schwartz. In his groundbreaking theory of values, Professor Schwartz showed that many of our values are interlinked. In fact, you can organize human values into 10 separate categories – categories that emerge time and time again across more than 50 different cultures and countries. These are the basic values, and they represent the content of the human value system.


Some of these values complement, others conflict. So someone who values ‘achievement’ and is ‘power-driven’ is unlikely to also value ‘benevolence’ and ‘universal equality.’ In other words, values have a clear structure that exists across cultures.

How do we know someone’s true values?

Values play a large role in our lives; from influencing what we study at university to guiding our choice of career.

Most interestingly for us marketers, they have an integral role in customer choice. Not only do they dictate the favoring of one product over another; they determine our satisfaction with what we buy – and therefore our likelihood of buying it again. For example people who value ‘universalism’ will not only favor an eco-friendly toothpaste, but also believe it is tastier and more effective than its rival - even when both products are otherwise identical.

Values and the influencer economy

The best influencers have channels that are basically public displays of their values. They discuss and sell what’s important to them, and their followers gather because they recognize a fundamental value-match. In short, the influencer is authentic and their followers know it.

But how can brands pick influencers who best match their values? And can we truly get away from ‘authenticity’ as a mere buzzword?

Schwartz’s theory of values allows us at Tailify to quantify a match’s caliber and to match-make based on these measures. No longer are we in the dark about the nature of authenticity. As far as the science is concerned, it’s being true to one’s values – and this can be expressed numerically, to the degree that brand and influencer values are in sync. Using validated surveys, and drawing on the rich psychology of values, we can target the traits that matter. Yes, there may be hundreds of values (and a thousand means of getting at them!) but with Schwartz’s basic values, and the accompanying psychometric tools, we can reach those with verified links to behavior – and tap into decades of knowledge.

It’s like a dating service for brands. Removing the guesswork of matchmaking by calculating and comparing your values. This can be done on a huge scale to test thousands of influencers instantly.

This is influencer marketing, powered by science. It’s the future and the next step of successful influencer marketing collaborations. So, what are your values?

To learn more about values, and better understand your own brand’s value priorities, contact us and we’ll help you and your brand make that perfect match.

Marketing Influencer Marketing Social Media Marketing

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Influencer Marketing, Powered by Science.

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