Be a Voter

Which is better? To encourage someone to vote or to encourage them to be a voter?

If you want the person to actually vote, encourage them to be a voter. It’s been found that this framing is more likely to lead to action.

If you’d like to strengthen a behavior, weave it into your identity. And if you’d like to change someone else’s behavior, encourage them towards an identity change that includes that behavior.

Use this framing with yourself too.

Don’t just get up early. Be an early riser.

Don’t just make a difference. Be a contributor.

Don’t just do personal growth experiments. Be an explorer.

Don’t just post on social media. Be a blogger, podcaster, or YouTuber.

A similar framing shift motivated me to register to vote this year (my first time voting in any political election). Being encouraged to vote never motivated me to change, perhaps because it seemed like a pointless behavior. I decided to vote this time because I want to be a participant, not a spectator. Being a nonvoter in this election doesn’t feel like a good identity to embrace. This time I feel like I have to vote against stupidity in a way that didn’t seem necessary before.

I’ve found this framing especially helpful for leaning into long-term changes, like thinking of myself as an entrepreneur when starting my first business back in 1994. Being an entrepreneur is a stronger frame than starting or running a business. A behavioral frame lets you get a job when you hit a rough patch in your business, but an identity frame makes that option harder to consider.

Consequently, you may want to use behavioral framing when you’d prefer to keep your options open and give yourself more room to pivot. Behavioral framing is more flexible. If, however, you want to feel more committed and focused, so you can really invest in a particular path, identity framing is often the better choice.