The Science of What Makes People Care

Five principles based in social science that will help organizations connect their work to what people care most about.

By Ann Christiano & Annie Neimand

On March 10, 1748, John Newton, a 22-year-old English seaman who had worked in the slave trade, was traveling home on a merchant ship after a series of misadventures, including being captured and enslaved in Sierra Leone. On that day, a violent storm struck just off the coast of Donegal, Ireland. Rocks ripped a hole in the side of the ship, and it seemed unlikely that the vessel would make it safely to shore. Newton prayed and committed to devote his life to Christianity if the ship was spared. At that moment—the story goes—the ship’s cargo shifted, covering the hole and allowing the ship to limp to port…