This is part of a series of information/stories delivered from the INCREDIBLE book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini. If you work or live a life where you have to get people to do thing, Influence studies and explains the 6 most powerful forces to persuade people. No other book has been recommended to me more, by people smarter than both of us.
In short, they are:
2) Social proof
3) Commitment & Consistency
4) Liking: People prefer to say ” yes” to those they know
And they will be a game changer for you and your business.
Today we elaborate on Liking.
Research conducted in the 1930s by the distinguished psychologist Gregory Razran. Using what he termed the “luncheon technique,” he found that his subjects became fonder of the people and things they experienced while
they were eating. It is not a long step from Pavlov’s classic demonstration to Razran’s luncheon technique. Obviously, a normal reaction to food can be transferred to some other thing through the process of raw association. Razran’s insight was that there are many normal responses to food besides salivation, one of them being a good and favorable feeling. Therefore, it is possible to attach this pleasant feeling, this positive attitude, to anything (political statements being only an example) that is closely associated with good food.
Without question, the force is deep and sweeping. As distinguished author Isaac Asimov put it in describing our reactions to the contests we view, “All things being equal, you root for your own sex, your own culture, your own locality…and what you want to prove is that you are better than the other person. Whomever you root for represents you; and when he wins, you win.”
When viewed in this light, the passion of the sports fan begins to make sense. The game is no light diversion to be enjoyed for its inherent form and artistry. The self is at stake. That is why hometown crowds are so adoring and, more tellingly, so grateful toward those regularly responsible for home-team victories.
Home-team defeats are the times for distancing oneself. Here “we” is not nearly as preferred as the insulating pronoun “they.” To prove the point, I once did a small experiment in which students at Arizona State University were phoned and asked to describe the outcome of a football game their school team had played a few weeks
earlier. Some of the students were asked the outcome of a certain game their team had lost; the other students were asked the outcome of a different game—one their team had won.
My fellow researcher, Avril Thorne, and I simply listened to what was said and recorded the percentage of students who used the word “we” in their descriptions. When the results were tabulated, it was obvious that the students had tried to connect themselves to success by using the pronoun “we” to describe their school-team victory—“We beat Houston, seventeen to fourteen,” or “We won.” In the case of the lost game, however, “we” was rarely used. Instead, the students used terms designed to keep themselves separate from their vanquished team—“They lost to Missouri, thirty to twenty,” or “I don’t know the score, but Arizona Stategot beat.” Perhaps the twin desires to connect ourselves to winners and to distance ourselves from losers were combined consummately in the remarks of one particular student. After dryly recounting the score of the home-team defeat—“Arizona State lost it, thirty to twenty”—he blurted in anguish, “They threw away our chance for a national championship!
Support for these ideas comes from the telephone study of Arizona State University students. Before being asked about the home team victory or loss, they were given a test of their general knowledge. The test was rigged so that some of the students would fail badly while the others would do quite well. So at the time they were asked to describe the football score, half of the students had experienced recent image damage from their failure
of the test. These students later showed the greatest need to manipulate their connections with the football team to salvage their prestige. If they were asked to describe the team defeat, only 17 percent used the pronoun“we” in so doing. If, however, they were asked to describe the win, 41 percent said “we.”
The story was very different, though, for the students who had done well on the general knowledge test. They later used “we” about equally, whether they were describing a home-team victory (25 percent) or defeat (24 percent). These students had bolstered their images through their own achievement and didn’t need to do so through the achievement of others. This finding tells me that it is not when we have a strong feeling of recognized personal accomplishment that we will seek to bask in reflected glory. Instead, it will be when prestige (both public and private) is low that we will be intent upon using the successes of associated others to help restore image.