Catalyst – Book Review

By: Jonah Berger


Change is challenging, often hindered by inertia. Whether in sales, marketing, or personal life, the resistance to change is prevalent. Jonah Berger, in his book, proposes a different approach—becoming a catalyst for change by removing barriers instead of forcing it.

A Better Way To Change Minds, Inspired by Chemistry:

 Berger draws a metaphor from chemistry, where catalysts facilitate change. Similarly, removing roadblocks can expedite change. The key question: Why hasn’t the person changed already? Berger explores five ways to become a catalyst, forming the acronym REDUCE: reduce Reactance, ease Endowment, shrink Distance, alleviate Uncertainty, and find Corroborating Evidence.

Principle 1: Reduce Reactance: 

Reactance occurs when people feel their freedom is threatened. To overcome this, persuading individuals should focus on self-persuasion. Methods include providing a menu of options, asking questions, highlighting gaps, and starting with understanding.

Principle 2: Ease Endowment:

People resist change due to the status quo bias. Two tactics to combat this are highlighting the cost of inaction and employing the “burn the ships” strategy, removing choices and compelling a new course of action.

Principle 3: Shrink Distance:

Information provided for persuasion must fall within the “zone of acceptance.” It’s crucial to determine the person’s current position, finding the movable middle, asking for less, and finding common ground for those deeply entrenched in their views.

Principle 4: Alleviate Uncertainty: 

People fear change due to uncertainty. To counter this, Berger suggests making things easier to try, utilizing trialability, freemium models, and ensuring reversibility of decisions.

Principle 5: Find Corroborating Evidence: 

Social proof is crucial, but it must be strategically deployed. Diversity in sources, concentration of exposure, and choosing between “sprinkler” and “fire hose” strategies help maximize the impact of corroborating evidence.


Change is indeed challenging, but Berger’s insights teach us to be catalysts, removing barriers to action. By following the principles of REDUCE, individuals can effectively drive change, making it easier for others to embrace new perspectives and behaviors.

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