The human: a lean machine...

Fixed-action patterns are behaviors that occur in almost the same fashion an order every time we perform them. In animals they are much stronger and therefore more easily recognized. Animals can also be quite funny because of these strong patterns. Because we can understand rationally how their action sometimes mismatch with the current situation their standard reaction sometimes look really stupid (Cialdini). My cat will react to the sound of the kitchen cabinet every time I open it. It does not matter if he just ate his food give minutes ago. He will even react ten times in a row… Automaticity in humans Ben Tiggelaar uses the 5/95-approach, assuming 95% of human behavior to be unconscious and/or automatic. Cialdini thinks that the current society and the amount of information we are provided to us requires us to react more automatic than ever before. All this automaticity in our behavior is highly efficient. If you know you will be hungry if you don’t eat breakfast it would be silly to decide every day again to eat breakfast. It is quicker and more practical to just make yourself something to eat while thinking about all plans you have for today. Chances are you don’t even think about what you eat, nor if you feel like eating this. Just imagine how much time all these decisions would cost you! I find people very skeptical when you tell them about automaticity. My opinion is different: I think we should celebrate how great this lean machine works. Adjusting your behavioral program All these automatic behaviors make it not so easy to change our behavior just by deciding to do so. If you drove to work the same route for three years, it is hard...

Why Cialdini’s six work...

I talked about this imaginary friend, a fishing buddy, that tells you he only liked fishing yesterday. Being a holistic individual is of great importance to us. We count on it that our friends will be the same friends we know tomorrow and the day after that. We also plan what we want to do in future times. If our goals and ideas stay the same, it would be hard to understand that our behavior would change all of the time. Caring and being one person Philosophers like Bratman and Frankfurt talk about this aspect of human being and the importance of being one and the same person. Not only is it important for us to care about something, it also makes us whole and gives us goals in life. The impact of the need to be holistic is not only visible in the principle of commitment, it also means we want to be right. Being wrong might mean you have to change your opinion later on. That is why we are vulnerable to other people’s opinion (social proof) and experts (authority). Even scarcity can be explained through this principle, since scarce items are wanted by other people too. Liking yourself: positive self-concept We do not only want to be one (and not many) persons, we also want to like ourselves. This is most visible in the principle of reciprocity where we share and give back because we want others (and ourselves) to think positive about us. The principle of liking is, of course, also tightly connected to liking ourselves. Why else would we like others that are like us? Shortcuts The principles Cialdini describes work most of the time unconsciously. A lot of times they also make sense...

Tempting prohibitions – Scarcity...

Ever wondered why your cellphone appeals so much to you, even though you are having a nice face-to-face conversation with a friend? The unknown and the possibility of missing something you can never get back is pulling so strongly at us it triggers us to check who is calling. Hobfoll found that people are more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something with an equal value. Loss or gain of grade point averages that went up or down the same amount were not valued the same. The loss was seen as much less desirable then the gain was viewed positive (Ketelaar). They trick you with scarcity Whatever is scarce, we like and want more. Telling customers (you!) that the amount of products is low will make you want the products more. They call it the limited-number tactic. They tell you the production stopped, or the import stopped, or they changed the model/product line and you need to be quick to obtain the product before it is too late. Time limits also work great. Knowing that the time to see, visit, buy or get something is running out will make you want it more. The higher price you will have to pay afterwards, or the impossibility of getting the same product: both deadlines will work. Why does it work? The things we like will be liked by others too. This easily makes them scarce. We have an internal rule stating that things that are difficult to get are typically better than those that are easy to get (Lynn). A second, and very powerful, reason is the loss of freedom; whenever we are no longer capable of purchasing what we (might) want we lose...

Follow the leader – Authority...

A Nurse once put ear drops in the anus of a patient, since the description said “place in R ear.” This obviously referred to the right ear of the patient, not the rear. Neither the nurse nor the patient wondered about this description, they followed the orders of the expert; the authority (Cohen and Davis). Society would not function without this hierarchy and therefore are we thought to work follow orders since we were very young. Hierarchy serves us greatly to generate sophisticated structures for production of resources, trade, expansion, defense and social control. All of this would be very hard to achieve without obedience to authority. Disobedience generally is considered wrong. Normally we follow an expert, whom will tell us what to do. Since he is the expert, it makes sense that he knows more and thus his appreciation of the situation will be better. Surely as a child this argument counts towards teachers, parents, grandparents etc. The famous experiments of Milgram show us how far we are willing to go, to obey the authority. Symbols only Titles, clothes and trappings are traditional ways to show authority. We know someone is a police officer because of the uniform he/she is wearing. It is also the way we recognize doctors and business men in well-tailored suits. Prestigious titles can lead to height distortions. Wilson found that the same man presented as the professor was estimated 2,5” taller with respect to the same man presented as a student. This works both ways, meaning that taller men will be attributed more authority. How it can be used against us Automatic responses can become problematic if the symbols are no longer matched to actual authority but only used to gain authority and...

That’s my name! – I like you!...

If someone you know asks you a favor, we prefer to say yes. If someone you don’t know mentions a name of a friend you will also prefer to say yes to a following request. The fact that you like someone, makes you willing to say yes. That is why companies will try to make you like them. Looking good? Good for you! Not only is it pleasant to look good, but people will like you more. Olson and Marshuetz found lots of benefits, so they called it the halo effect. Just one positive characteristic, and the overall expectations and ratings of a person become very positive. They found influences in: hiring, payday, judicial processes, getting help, persuading, … (lots of references, see below). Look alike? Also perfect! The same effect will occur, people will like you more. It does not matter if you are similar in opinion, personality traits, background, lifestyle, or clothing style (Burger et al.) it all does the trick. How liking works People who look like us might be like us. That enhances the chance that we like them. We like to be liked. It doesn’t even matter if the liking is real, or if it is just flattery meant to trick you. We tend to believe flattery and the comments don’t even have to be accurate (Drachman, et al.). We easily like people whom are familiar, and that familiarity can exist in many ways (Monahan et al.). Liking also works with objects. I once hated uggs and I know many people who thought the same. Even though I am still no big fan, at a point I stopped laughing about these silly shoes. It is the same liking principle: whatever we see often, we...

Using Other People as Shortcut – Social Proof...

We appear to believe that what others think is correct. In an unknown situation we will look at the behavior of others, and copy-paste this to ourselves. Yet even in situations where we do know how to act, people can let us astray and make us follow their choices. The plurality of the truths of others appears more important than what we think ourselves. Ten people know more than one and so if we don’t know what to do; we better look at the behavior of others. It sounds very reasonable to think this way and we do it very often too. There is one major issue with this ‘shortcut’ in our thinking. We take it for granted that those other people do know what needs to be done. And this assumption might be false. Incorrect Examples Suppose all the examples of behavior you are seeing are not correct? Suppose everybody is acting just as unknowing as you are. Each of you will be copying the behavior of someone else. If, by accident, the first person (whom everyone started to copy) acted silly, you might all end up acting ridiculous. Lun et al. found that this principle influences greatly what we perceive as correct and incorrect behavior. The more often we see option A in situation X, the more we will appreciate option A in this situation. Using it for the better Bandura and Menlove reduced children’s fear for dogs. They provided the children with different pictures of others playing with dogs. Pictures were enough to make a change. The biggest change was found when pictures were shown where several people played with a dog: the more the better to prove that dogs aren’t scary. In a situation where...

Forcing yourself – commitment...

Consistency can be a deadly weapon, threatening you to drive you into directions you don’t want to go. Everything you did earlier will force you to behave the same. We desire to be consistent with whom we are and what we did. Other people also expect you to be the same. They don’t expect you to be a different personality tomorrow. They want you to like apples yesterday, today and tomorrow. So there is a lot of pressure to respond and behave in line with our earlier actions and decisions (Fazio et al). A good one mostly, since consistency is highly valued as a personality trait. I imagine this fishing buddy saying: “no… I don’t feel like fishing, that only was my hobby before! Today I have a new hobby, let’s go paintballing.” That would be weird, right? It wouldn’t suit in the picture of your friend. Consistency fooling us We like to be consistent so much, that when our thoughts and beliefs are inconsistent with what we did and said before, we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking otherwise (Briñol et al). We also like to be consistent to the extend that we can be driven to actions we don’t like, simply because they are in line with what we did before, not with what we want to do (Asch). Commitment drawing us in The moment we take a stance is the moment we proclaim commitment to certain thoughts and behaviors (Brownstein). It doesn’t matter if you have thought through what you say. It even doesn’t matter if you are paid to say it, or forced. As long as it is your decision in the end. Letting people predict if they will vote, will raise the chances they actually...

Give and Take, or Take and Give? – Reciprocity...

We should try to repay what others did for us, is what the rule of reciprocation tells us. We don’t like people who don’t return our favors. So it is not just a rule, it is an obligation. To keep healthy relationships we need to repay what we got. Somewhere in future times we will need to repay favors, gifts and invitations we got from other people. Everyone in the whole World learns this give and take rule (Gouldner). We learn the rule when we are really young and learn to appreciate it by encountering it many many times. That is why we really dislike it when someone doesn’t return a favor. It is also the reason why this rule can make us say yes to things we normally would say no to. This mechanism can come in handy, since it means that all things you give away actually will be repaid. So you don’t really give them away then, right? Well yes, but… the smaller the gift the sooner the feeling of debt will fade away (see Flynn). Feeling guilty? Giving in advance is really important for the ‘guilt’ feeling. An insurance company held a survey and measured the response rate.  Putting $5 in the envelop was twice as effective opposed to promising to pay them $50 if they would send the completed survey back (James & Bolstein). Sounds like people don’t want to be pay big time… but actually people simply felt that they needed to reciprocate the already given $5. The rule of reciprocation can be applied in many ways to convince others to agree with something you want or want to do. You might do a favor and ask something back. The other will have a...