Monday, November 12, 2007

Resisting Influence: Consistency

Cialdini’s Principles of Social Influence

[Context: Commitments]

People desire to look consistent
within their words, beliefs, attitudes, and deeds

The Basics
  • Good personal consistency is highly valued by society
  • Consistent conduct provides a beneficial approach to daily life
  • Affords a valuable shortcut through complex decision-making; being consistent with earlier decisions reduces need to process relevant information in future decisions

How It’s Exploited
  • Profiteers exploit the principle by inducing people to make an initial commitment, take a stand or position that is consistent with requests that they will later ask of them
  • Commitments are most effective when they are active, public, effortful, and are seen as not coerced and internally motivated – influence professionals will try to make it difficult to renege on your previous position
  • If they are successful, abiding by this rule may lead to stubborn commitment to an initial position and to actions contrary to one’s best interests
  • The rule may become self-perpetuating – people will seek to add new reasons and justifications for their behavior even after conditions have changed

Best Defense
  • To resist this principle, learn to recognize and resist undue influence of consistency pressures on compliance decisions
  • Do not be pressured into accepting requests that you do not want to perform and disregard unjust or falsely obtained initial commitments, however small they seem initially
  • Be sensitive to situational variables operating on your decision, separate them from personal variables, external forces on the compliance from internal forces to justify it.

©2006-2007, Philip G. Zimbardo