The Consistency Bias

Human psychology is a stark focus among businesses and marketing efforts to increase demand for their products, as targeting specific cognitive biases can largely predict behavior.

What is the consistency bias?

The consistency bias is a psychological tool embedded in the human psyche as a tendency to follow in line with previous behavior. It has been validated through several experiments in which participants showed a high level of consistency between their judgment and estimate. It suggests that cognitive processes are governed by a self-consistency principle to avoid dissonant thoughts, meaning we like to act in support of something we imagine ourselves doing or have already done. Otherwise, we experience a disconnect between our actions and our thoughts, and that makes us uncomfortable (Luu & Stocker, 2018).

Take advantage of the consistency bias by transforming it into a marketing strategy.

This is commonly referred to as the “foot in the door” technique. Once a consumer takes that first small “step” in the door, it builds more trust and better relations with the company to then make bigger commitments later down the line. Those commitments follow along after the original small commitments, again showing the consistency bias at work.

We can combine these two ideas into our own marketing “funnel” model.

The beginning part of the funnel encapsulates the least commitment; a small effort toward consumers that will hook them in. Then subsequentially each step down the funnel fosters a larger commitment to your company. Taking small steps instead of placing everything on the table at once is a smart strategy, especially in the pharmaceutical and medical world. People can easily become overwhelmed by the number of options presented, the commitment needed, the costs, etc. By presenting them with one task at a time to foster relations with your company, they are more likely to act in alignment with the consistency bias later and continue to support your company.


This can look like asking your audience to commit to a free trial with no follow-up payment. If they are then satisfied after their free trial, they can take one step further by committing to some sort of payment for the same service. Again, if they were happy with the results, they would be likely to act and support the company following the consistency bias and foot-in-the-door techniques. These techniques combined are vital for building trust and a stable relationship between your business and your client.

Let Sage help you engage with your target audience and get your foot in the door. Contact us today to learn about our diverse offerings of advertising, marketing, and content sponsorship solutions.