Monday, November 12, 2007

Resisting Influence: Reciprocity and Contexts of Obligation

Cialdini’s Principles of Social Influence

[Context: Obligation]

The rule of reciprocity requires that one person try to repay, in kind,
what another person has provided
The Basics
  • Supports the giving of favors since repayment is expected from the recipient
  • Sense of future obligation makes it possible to develop continuing relationships, transactions, and exchanges in society
  • Members of society are trained from childhood to abide by the reciprocity rule or suffer social disapproval

How It’s Exploited
  • Rule can apply to uninvited exchanges – when exploited, others can reduce our ability to freely decide, and thus, lead us to react automatically
  • Rule can spur unequal exchanges – individuals may agree to perform a substantially larger favor in return for an initial, small one
  • Principle also applies to making concessions – you may reciprocate a concession if the other party seems to make one Ex. "Door-in-the-face" – relies on persuader making an outrageous, extreme request first, then conceding to a comparatively small request (one desired all along) that will likely be accepted because it appears to make a concession
  • Also increases the likelihood person will agree to future requests
Best Defense
  • Reject initial offers, favors, concessions; redefine them as tricks and no longer feel obligated to respond reciprocally, unless you know the other person and can trust that the initial favor is given meaningfully.

Prepared by Philip Zimbardo and Cindy X. Wang
©2006-2007, Philip G. Zimbardo