The fourth in my series of seven influence and persuasion posts is a surprising one! Not surprising when you look at the title, as most of my regular readership know that I am obssessed with all things Ben Franklin. No you will be surprised with the tecnique itself because I think its counter intuitive. OK, lets get started.. My fourth topic on persuasion is the ‘Ben Franklin technique’ ! Stick with me on this one as it will knock your socks off!!
It was first cited in writing by Ben Franklin in his autobigraphy that he was able to influence using this technique, hence the ‘ben Franklin’ moniker: When we do a person a favor, we tend to like them more as a result! Yes I wrote that correct, doing favours for others makes us like them more! But why? Well it would seem that psychologists believe that because we justify our actions to our own subcouncious that we did them a favor because we liked them or in someway our efort was justified.
Benjamin Franklin himself said, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”
I think the most saddest detail about this particular technique is that the reverse effect is also true, and we come to hate our victims, which helps to explain wartime atrocities. We de-humanize the enemy, which decrease our own moral codes so killing and other things in which we would never normally indulge is justified.
Now the science
Jecker and Landy (1969) involved students in an intellectual contest where they could win significant money. Afterwards:
A: 1/3 were approached by the researcher and asked to return money as he had been using his own funds and was running short.
B: 1/3 were approached by a secretary and asked to return money as it was from the psychology department and funds were low.
C: 1/3 were not approached.
Then all were surveyed to see how much they liked the researcher. Group B rated him lower than Group C (so impersonal request for a favor decreases liking). Group A rated him higher than group C (so personal request for a favor increases liking).
If you are thinking of using this technique ‘Ask people to do you a small favor. And don’t return it immediately.’ This will yield you more of a bias in the future.. As always i ask that you beaware of this happening to you and be aware that when you do favours for people you can be opening yourself to bias you were unaware of.
until the next time – be great – N