Action Bias: What It Is & How To Use It In ECommerce & Dropshipping

It’s 8 p.m., and you’re waiting for a friend at your favorite coffee shop.

8:02 p.m., you open your mobile phone and check for the time. She hasn’t come yet.

8:04 p.m., you take out your phone to check for the time again. “Where is she?” You asked.

8:06 p.m., one more time, you look at your phone to see the time.

What is it that makes you want to check the phone so badly, even if you know it’s pointless doing so?

What Is Action Bias?

The action bias is a human tendency to favor action over inaction. We tend to consider a lack of activity to be wrong and compel to respond with action as a default, automatic reaction.

Suppose you drive home after a long day at work and find yourself stuck in heavy traffic jams. You have 2 options: Move slowly along with the line of cars or get on a longer no-traffic road that might take more time for you to get home. Although the best decision here is the first option, most people prefer the second one. This is the action bias in place.

What Causes Action Bias

There’re a number of reasons why this bias happens.

The first one is that immediate actions were our means for hunting and surviving thousands of years ago. Although we have long passed that time, our brain still views actions as necessary parts in any situation.

Another reason is that we want to be in control. Taking action makes us feel like we can do something to change the situation for the better. On the contrary, not doing anything means we accept defeat from the beginning, which no one likes that feeling.

So, going back to our first example, our desire to check the phone stems from the action bias. Specifically, we feel the need to be in control to make an informed decision of what we should do next.

How To Use Action Bias In ECommerce & Dropshipping

Since action bias leads us to favor action over inaction, it’s a good idea to make important elements of your online store more lively.

For example, animating your Add-To-Cart and Buy button help catch customers’ attention and increase their CTR (Click Through Rate).

Animating CTA button to trigger action bias

Another example is when collecting email leads from your store visitors.

It’s boring just showing a static popup asking people for their names and email addresses. Instead, you can integrate gamification into the form (such as a spin-to-win game) to trigger the action bias, essentially increasing the chance people enter their information.

Gamification to provoke the action bias

The third example is using gifs. They’re not directly related to the action bias, but they make the product page of your eCommerce & dropshipping store more engaging. Furthermore, gifs help customers easily see your product in use.

Gifs in product page example

And finally, including action phrases in your product description and your marketing campaigns like “Act now!” or “Start today!” is also a great stimulus to provoke the bias.

Action phrases in product description to trigger the action bias


Animating your CTA buttons, integrating gamification, leveraging gifs, and using action phrases are some of the ways to stimulate the action bias, helping you increase your conversion rate and create better marketing messages.

If you want to build a profitable eCommerce & dropshipping store, check out this guide on How to start a dropshipping business successfully.

Note: You can find more articles about Behavioral Economics at Behavioral Swipes.

Cohee Truong
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