_Influence: Science and Practice_ by Robert Cialdini
Boston: Pearson Education, 2009
ISBN -13: 978-0-205-60999-4x
(12) There is a principle in human perception, the contrast principle, that affects the way we see the difference between two things that are presented one after another. Simply put, if the second item is fairly different from the first, we will tend to see it as _more_ different than it actually is. So if we lift a light object first and then lift a heavy object, we will estimate the second object to be heavier than if we had lifted it without first lifting the light one. The contrast principle is well established in the field of psychophysics and applies to all sorts of perceptions besides weight. If we are talking to a very attractive individual at a party and are then joined by an unattractive individual, the second will strike us as less attractive than he or she actually is.
(16-17) Fixed Action Patterns Summary
For both humans and subhumans, the automatic behavior patterns tend to be triggered by a single feature of the relevant information in the situation. This single feature, or trigger feature, can often prove very valuable by allowing an individual to decide on a correct course of action without having to analyze carefully and completely each of the other pieces of information in the situation.
The advantage of such shortcut responding lies in its efficiency and economy; by reacting automatically to a usually informative trigger feature, an individual preserves crucial, time, energy, and mental capacity. The disadvantage of such responding lies in its vulnerably to silly and costly mistakes; by reacting to only a piece of the available information (even a normally predictive piece), an individual increases the chances of error, especially when responding in an automatic, mindless fashion. The chances of error increase even further when other individuals seek to profit by arranging (through manipulation of trigger features) to stimulate a desired behavior at inappropriate times.
Much of the compliance process (wherein one person is spurred to comply with another person's request) can be understood in terms of human tendency for automatic, shortcut responding. Most individuals in our culture have developed a set of trigger features for compliance, that is, a set of specific pieces of information that normally tell us when compliance with a request is likely to be correct and beneficial. Each of these trigger features for compliance can be used like a weapon (of influence) to stimulate people to agree to requests.
(19) While small in scope, this study shows the action of one of the most potent of the weapons of influence around us - the rule of reciprocation. The rule says that we should try to repay in kind, what another person has provided us. If a woman does us a favor, we should do her one in return: if a man sends us a birthday present, we should remember his birthday with a gift of our own; if a couple invites us to a party, we should be sure to invite them to one of ours….
The impressive aspect of reciprocation with its accompanying sense of obligation is its pervasiveness in human culture. It is so widespread that, after intensive study, Alvin Gouldner (1960), along with other sociologists, report that all human societies subscribe to the rule….
The noted archaeologist Richard Leakey ascribes the essence of what makes us human to the reciprocity system. He claims that we are human because our ancestors learned to share food and skills "in an honored network of obligation" (Leakey & Lewin, 1978).
(25) benefactor-before-beggar strategy
(31) Little wonder, then, that influential French anthropologist Marcel Mauss (1954), in describing the social pressures surrounding the gift giving process in human culture, says that there is an obligation to give, an obligation to receive, and an obligation to repay.
(49) Reciprocation Summary
Reciprocation: The rule requires that one person try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided. By obligating the recipient of an act to repayment in the future, the rule for reciprocation allows one individual to give something to another with confidence that it is not being lost.
One favorite and profitable tactic of certain compliance professionals is to give something before asking for a return favor. Reciprocity rule is extremely powerful, the rule applies even to uninvited first favors, the rule can spur unequal exchanges.
Instead of providing a first favor, an individual can make an initial concession that stimulates a return concession.
Best defense is to accept initial favors or concessions in good faith, but be ready to redefine them as tricks should they later be proved as such.
(52) Like the other weapons of influence, this one lies deep within us, directing our actions with quiet power. It is, quite simply, our desire to be (and to appear) consistent with what we have already done. _Once we make a choice or take a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment._ Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision. We simply convince ourselves that we have made the right choice and, no doubt, feel better about our decision (Fazio, Blascovich, & Driscoll, 1992).
(65-66) What the Freedman and Fraser findings tell us, then, is to be very careful about agreeing to trivial requests, because that agreement can influence our self-concepts (Burger & Caldwell, 2003). Such an agreement can not only increase our compliance with very similar, much larger requests, it can also make us more willing to perform a variety of larger favors that are only remotely connected to the little one we did earlier. It's this second, general kind of influence concealed within small commitments that scares me.
(78) A pair of young researchers, Elliot Aronson and Judson Mills, decided to test their observation that "persons who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with a minimum of effort."
…The Thonga tribesman with tears in his eyes, watching his 10-year-old son tremble through a night on the cold ground of the "yard of mysteries," the college sophomore punctuating his Hell Night paddling of his fraternity "little brother" with bursts of nervous laughter, these are not acts of sadism. They are acts of group survival. They function, oddly enough, to spur future society members to find the group more attractive and worthwhile. As long as it is the case that people like and believe in that they have struggle to get, these groups will continue to arrange effortful and troublesome initiation rites. The loyalty and dedication of those who emerge will increase to a great degree the chances of group cohesiveness and survival.
(80) Although the settings are quite different, the surveyed fraternities refused to allow civic activities into their initiation ceremonies for the same reason that the Chinese withheld large prizes in favor of less powerful inducements [for American prisoners' political essay contests in the Korean War]: They wanted the participants to _own_ what they had done. No excuses, no ways out were allowed. A pledge who suffered through an arduous hazing could not be given the chance to believe he did so for charitable purposes. A prisoner who salted his political essay with anti-American comments could not be permitted to shrug it off as motivated by a big reward. No, the fraternity chapters and Chinese Communists were playing for keeps. It was not enough to wring commitments out of their men; those men had to be made to take inner responsibility for their actions…
Social scientists have determined that _we accept inner responsibility for a behavior when we think we have chosen to perform it in the absence of strong outside pressure._ A large reward is one such external pressure.
(87) Each family that had been promised publicity received a letter saying it would not be possible to publicize its name after all.
For each of the remaining winter months, these families actually conserved _more_ fuel than they had during the time they thought they would be publicly celebrated for it! In terms of percentage of energy savings, they had managed a 12.2 percent gas savings during the first month because they expected to see themselves lauded in the paper. However after the letter arrived informing them to the contrary, they did not return to their previous energy-use levels; instead, they increased their savings to a 15.5 percent level for the rest of the winter….
In a way, the opportunity to receive newspaper publicity had prevented the homeowners from fully owning their commitment to conservation. Of all the reasons supporting the decision to try to save fuel, it was the only one that had come from the outside; it was the only one preventing the homeowners from thinking that they were conserving gas because they believed in it. So when the letter arrived canceling the publicity agreement, it removed the only impediment to these residents' images of themselves as fully concerned, energy-conscious citizens.
(88) An impressive series of studies by Richard Katzev and his students at Reed College has demonstrated the effectiveness of commitment tactics like written pledges and foot-in-the-door procedures in increasing such energy conservation behaviors as recycling, electricity usage, and bus ridership.
(89) The only effective defense I know against the weapons of influence embodied in the combined principles of commitment and consistency is an awareness that, although consistency is generally good, even vital, there is a foolish, rigid variety to be shunned. We must be wary of the tendency to be automatically and unthinkingly consistent, for it lays us open to the maneuvers of those who want to exploit the mechanical commitment-consistency sequence for profit…
The first signal is easy to recognize. It occurs right in the pit of our stomachs when we realize we are trapped into complying with a request we _know_ we don't want to perform.
(92) Psychological evidence indicates that we experience our feelings toward something a split second before we can intellectualize about it (Murphy & Zajonc, 1993; van den Berg et al, 2006). My suspicion is that the message sent by the heart of hearts is a pure, basic feeling. Therefore, if we train ourselves to be attentive, we should register the feeling ever so slightly before our cognitive apparatus engages.
(95) Commitment and Consistency Summary
This tendency for consistency is fed from three sources. First, good personal consistency is highly valued by society. second, aside from its effect on public image, generally consistent conduct provides a beneficial approach to daily life. Third, a consistent orientation affords a valuable shortcut through the complexity of modern existence.
For compliance, securing an initial commitment is the key. Commitments are most effective when they are active, public, effortful, and viewed as internally motivated (uncorked).
People often add new reasons and justifications to support the wisdom of commitments they have already made. As a consequence, some commitments remain in effect long after the conditions that spurred them have changed.
Listen for signals from our stomachs and heart of hearts. Stomach signs appear when we realize that we are being pushed by commitment and consistency pressures to requests we know we don't want to perform.
(96) Heart-of-yeart signs are different. They are best employed when it is not clear to us that an initial commitment was wrongheaded. Here, we should ask ourselves a crucial question, "Knowing what i know, if I could go back in time, would I make the same commitment?" One informative answer amy come as the first flash of feeling registered. Commitment and consistency tactics are likely to work especially well on members of individualistic societies, particularly those who are over 50 years old.
(99) To discover why canned laughter is so effective, we first need to understand the nature of yet another potent weapon of influence: the principle of social proof. This principle states that we determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct (Lun et al, 2007). The principle applies especially to the way we decide what constitutes correct behavior. _We view behavior as correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it_.
(100) Sales and motivation consultant Cavett Robert: "Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer."
NB: Swadeshi, constructive protest
(108) Imagine the corner in which Dr. Armstrong and his followers [doomsday cult as the announced day of judgement arrives] found themselves as morning approached. So massive was the commitment to their beliefs that no other truth was tolerable. Yet that set of beliefs had just taken a merciless pounding from physical reality. No saucer had landed, no spacemen had knocked, no flood had come, nothing had happened as prophesied. Since the only acceptable form of truth had been undercut by physical proof, there was but one way out of the corner for the group. It had to establish another type of proof for the validity of its beliefs: social proof.
NB: Climate change
(109) It was a sense of shaken confidence that triggered their craving for converts. In general, when we are unsure of ourselves, when the situation is unclear or ambiguous, when uncertainty reigns, we are most likely to look to and accept the actions of others as correct (Sechrist & Stangor, 2007; Wooten & Reed, 1998; Zitek & Hebl, 2007).
Another way that uncertainty develops is through lack of familiarity with a situation. Under such circumstances, people are especially likely to follow the lead of others there.
(112) [In an ambiguous situation] Because we all prefer to appear poised and unflustered among others, we are likely to search for that evidence placidly, with brief, camouflaged glances at those around us. Therefore everyone is likely to see everyone else looking unfurled and failing to act. As a result, and by the principle of social proof, the event will be roundly interpreted as a nonemergency. This, according to Latané and Darley (1968b) is the state of pluralistic ignorance "in which each person decided that since nobody is concerned, nothing is wrong. Meanwhile, the danger may be mounting to the point where a single individual, uninfluenced by the seeming calm of others, _would_ react."
NB: pluralistic ignorance
(115) The key is the realization that groups of bystanders fail to help because the bystanders are unsure rather than unkind. They don't help because they are unsure an emergency actually exists and whether they are responsible for taking action. When they are sure of their responsibilities for intervening in a clear emergency, people are exceedingly responsive!
NB: Training and preparedness
(121) The influence of suicide stories on car and plane crashes, then, is fantastically specific. Stories of pure suicides, in which only one person dies, generate wrecks in which only one person dies; stories of suicide-murder combination, in which there are multiple deaths, generate wrecks in which there are multiple death. If neither "social conditions" nor "bereavement" can make sense of this bewildering array of facts, what can?
NB: [Sorrows of Young] Werther effect, copycat
(129) Ah, uncertainty - the right-hand man of the principle of social proof. We have already seen that when people are uncertain, they look to the actions of others to guide their own actions.
(130) The second source of social evidence came from the reactions of the crowd itself. Given the conditions, I suspect that what occurred was a large-scale instance of the pluralistic ignorance phenomenon. Each Jonestowner looked to the actions of surrounding individuals to assess the situation and - finding calmness because everyone else, too, was surreptitiously assessing rather than reacting - "learned" that patient turn taking was the correct behavior.
(131) No leader can hope to persuade, regularly and single-handedly, all the members of the group. A forceful leader can reasonably expect, however, to persuade some sizable proportion of group members. Then the raw information that a substantial number of group members has been convinced can, by itself, convince the rest (Watts & Dodd, 2007). Thus, the most influential leaders are those who know how to arrange group conditions to allow the principal of social proof to work in their favor….
There a settlement of a thousand people, much too large to be held in persistent sway by the force of one man's personality, could be changed from a following into a _herd_. As slaughterhouse operators have long known, the mentality of a herd makes it easy to manage. Simply get some members moving in the desired direction and the others - responding not so much to the lead animal as to those immediately surrounding them - will peacefully and mechanically go along.
(132) There are two types of situations in which incorrect data cause the principle of social proof to give us poor council. The first occurs when the social evidence has been purposely falsified. Invariably these situations are manufactured by exploiters intent on creating the _impression_ - reality be damned - that a multitude is performing the way the exploiters want us to perform. The canned laughter of TV comedy who's is one variety of faked data of this sort, but there is a great deal more, and much of the fakery is strikingly obvious.
NB: He uses claques as an example - climate deniers have constructed a claque
(133) Whether in the world of _Rigoletto_ or TV sit-coms, audiences have been successfully manipulated by those who use social evidence, even when that evidence has been openly falsified.
NB: Political lies, the 2012 Repug Presidential election - pluralistic ignorance - "in which each person decided that since nobody is concerned, nothing is wrong. Meanwhile, the danger may be mounting to the point where a single individual, uninfluenced by the seeming calm of others, _would_ react."
(136) In such an instance, an innocent, natural error will produce snowballing social proof that pushes us to an incorrect decision. The pluralistic ignorance phenomenon, in which everyone at an emergency sees no cause for alarm, is one example of this process.
(137) First, we seem to assume that if a lot of people are doing the same thing, they must know something we don't. Especially when we are uncertain, we are willing to place an enormous amount of trust in the collective knowledge of the crowd. Second, quite frequently the crowd is mistaken because its members are not acting on the basis of any superior information but are reacting, themselves, to the principle of social proof.
There is a lesson here: An automatic pilot device, like social proof, should never be trusted fully; even when no saboteur has slipped misinformation into the mechanism, it can sometimes go haywire by itself.
…research tells us that citizens of Far Eastern societies have a greater tendency to respond to social proof information than do those from Western cultures (Bond& Smith, 1996). But, any culture that values the group over the individual exhibits this greater susceptibility to information about peers' choices.
(138-139) Social Proof Summary
(143) Other compliance professionals have found that the friend doesn't even have to be present to be effective; often, just the mention of the friend's name is enough.
(148) _We like people who are similar to us_ (Burger et al, 2004). This fact seems to hold true whether the similarity is in the area of opinions, personality traits, background, or lifestyle. Consequently, this who want us to like them so that we will comply with them can accomplish that purpose by appearing similar to us in a wide variety of ways.
(149) Because even small similarities can be effective in producing a positive response to another and because a veneer of similarity can be so easily manufactured, I would advise special caution in the presence of requesters who claim to be "just like you." Indeed, it would be wise these days to be careful around salespeople who just _seem_ to be just like you. Many sales training programs now urge trainees to "mirror and match" the customer's body posture, old, and verbal style, as similarities along each of these dimensions have been shown to lead to positive results (Chartrand & Bargh, 1999; Locke & Horowitz, 1990; van Baaren et al, 2003).
(151) Reader's Report: But Chris was fantastic at complimenting me before he'd request my assistance. He'd start by saying, "I heard you did a fantastic job with the such-and-such project, and I have a similar one I am hoping you can help me with." Or, "Since you are so expert in X, could you help me out by putting together this assignment?" I never really cared much for Chris. However, in those few seconds, I always changed my mind, thinking that maybe he was a nice guy after all; and, then, I'd usually give in to his request for help.
Author's Note: Chris was more than a flatterer. He structured his praise to give the reader a reputation to live up to. In so doing, he combined a potent element of the Liking principle with the force of the Consistency principle.
(152) Often we don't realize that our attitude toward something has been influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past. For example, in one experiment, the faces of several individuals were flashed on a screen so quickly that, later on. The subjects who were exposed to the faces in this manner couldn't recall having seen any of them before. Yet, the more frequently a person's face was flashed on the screen, the more these subjects came to like that person when they met in a subsequent interaction.
(153) In fact, continued exposure to a person or object under unpleasant conditions such as frustration, conflict, or competition leads to less liking (Richeson & Shelton, 2007; Swap, 1977; Zajonc, Markus & Wilson, 1974).
(154) At this point, it was evident to Sherif that the recipe for disharmony was quick and easy: just separate the participants into groups and let them sit for a while in their own juices. Then mix together over the flame of continued competition. And there you have it: Cross-group hatred at a rolling boil.
(155) They constructed a series of situations in which competition between the groups would have harmed everyone's interest; instead, cooperation was necessary for mutual benefit. On a day-long outing, the single truck available to go into town for food was "found" to be stuck. The boys were assembled and all pulled and pushed together until the vehicle was on its way…
The consequences of these cooperative ventures though not instantaneous were nonetheless striking. Successful joint efforts toward common goals steadily bridged the rift between the two groups….
The crucial procedure was the experimenters' imposition of common goals on the groups. It was the cooperation required to achieve these goals that finally allowed the rival group members to experience one another a reasonable fellows, valued helpers, friends, and friends of friends (Paolini et al, 2004; Wright, Aaron, McLaughlin-Volpe, & Ropp, 1997). When success resulted from the mutual efforts, it became especially difficult to maintain feeling sod hostility toward those who had been teammates in the triumph.
(156) The essence of the jigsaw route to learning is to require that students work together to master the material to be tested on an upcoming examination. This end is accomplished by grouping students into cooperating teams and giving each student only part of the information - one piece of the puzzle - necessary to pass the test. Under this system the students must take turns teaching and helping one another. Everyone need everyone else to do well. Like Sherif's campers working on tasked that could be successfully accomplished only jointly, the students become allies rather than enemies…
After all, not only are cooperative learning techniques a radical departure from the traditional, familiar routine of most teachers, but they may also threaten a teacher's sense of importance in the classroom by turning over much of the instruction to the students. Finally, we must realize that competition has its place, too. It can serve as a valuable motivator of desirable action and an important builder of self-concept. The task, then, is not to eliminate academic competition but to break its monopoly in the classroom by introducing regular cooperative techniques that include members of all ethnic groups and lead to successful outcomes.
(157) What's the point of this digression into the effects of school desegregation in race relations? The point is to make two points. First, although the familiarity produced by contact usually leads to greater liking, the opposite occurs if the contact carries distasteful experiences with it. Therefore, when children of different racial groups are thrown into the incessant, harsh competition of the standard American classroom, we ought to - and do - see hostilities worsen. Second, the evidence that team-oriented learning is an antidote to this disorder tells us about the heavy impact of cooperation on the liking process.
(170) By concentrating our attention on the effects rather than the causes, we can avoid the laborious, nearly impossible task of trying to detect and deflect the many psychological influences on liking. Instead, we have to be sensitive to only one thing related to liking in our contacts with compliance practitioners: the feeling that we have come to like the practitioner more quickly or more deeply than we would have expected. Once we _notice_ this feeling, we will have been tipped off that there is probably some tactic being used, and we can start taking the necessary countermeasures. Note that the strategy I am suggesting borrows much from the jujitsu style favored by compliance professionals themselves. We don't attempt to restrain the influence of the factors that cause liking. Quite the contrary. We allow those factor to exert their force, and then we use that force in our campaign against those who would profit by them. The stronger the force, the more conspicuous it becomes and, consequently, the more subject to our alerted defenses.
(171) If our answer to the crucial question is "Yes, under the circumstances, I like this guy peculiarly well," this should be the signal that the time has come for a quick counter maneuver: Mentally separate Dan from that Chevy or Toyota he's trying to sell. It is vital to remember at this point that, should we choose Dan's car, we will be driving _it_, not him, off the dealership lot.
(176) When it is their job how much suffering will ordinary people be willing to inflict on an entirely innocent other person?
The answer is most unsettling. Under circumstances mirroring precisely the features of the "bad dream," the typical Teacher was willing to deliver as much pain as was available to give. Rather than yield to the pleas of the victim, about two-thirds of the subjects in Milgram's experiment pulled every one of the 30 shock switches in front of them and continued to engage the last switch (450 volts) until the researcher ended the experiment. More alarming still, almost none of the 40 subjects in this study quit his job as Teacher when the victim first began to demand his release, nor later when he began to beg for it, nor even later when his reaction to each shock had become, in Milgram's words, "definitely an agonies scream."
(178) In a later experiment, for instance, he [Milgram] had the researcher and the victim switch scripts so that the researcher told the Teacher to stop delivering shocks to the victim, while the victim insisted bravely that the Teacher continue. The result couldn't have been clearer; 100 percent of the subjects refused to give one additional shock when it was merely the fellow subject who demanded it. The identical finding appeared in another version of the experiment in which the researcher and fellow subject switched roles to that it was the researcher who was strapped into the chair and the fellow subject who ordered the Teacher to continue - over the protest of the researcher. Again, not one subject touched another shock lever.
(179) Milgram's _Obedience to Authority_, 1974
(184) [Actor Robert Young and Dr Marcus Welby halo in Sanka commercials] The appearance of authority was enough. This tells us something important about unthinking reactions to authority figures. When in a _click, whirr_ mode, we are often as vulnerable to the symbols of authority as to the substance….
Each of these types of symbols of authority - titles, clothes, and trappings - has its own story and is worth a separate look.
(191) One protective tactic we can use against authority status is to remove its element of surprise. Because we typically misperceive the profound impact of authority (and its symbols) on our actions, we become insufficiently cautious about its presence in compliance situations. A fundamental form of defense against this problem, therefore, is a heightened awareness of authority power. When this awareness is coupled with a recognition of how easily authority symbols can be faked, the benefit will be a properly guarded approach to situations involving authority influence attempts…
Posing two questions to ourselves can help enormously to determine when authority directives should and should not be followed. The first question to ask when we are confronted with what appears to be an authority figure's influence attempt is "Is this authority truly an expert?" This question focuses our attention on two crucial pieces of information: the authority's credentials and the relevance of those credentials to the topic at hand. By turning in this simple way to the _evidence_ for authority status, we can avoid the major pitfalls of automatic defense.
(192) Suppose, though, that we are confronted with an authority who we determine _is_ a relevant expert. Before submitting to authority influence, we should ask a second simple question, "How truthful can we expect the expert to be?" Authorities, even the best informed, may not present their information honestly to us; therefore, we need to consider their trustworthiness in the situation. Most of the time we do. We allow ourselves to be swayed more by experts who seem to be impartial than by those who have something to gain by convincing us (Eagly, Wood, & Chaiken, 1978); research has shown this to be true around the world (McGuinnies & Ward, 1980) and in children as young as second-graders (Mills & Keil, 2005). By wondering how an expert stands to benefit from our compliance, we give ourselves another safety net against undue and automatic influence. Even knowledgeable authorities in a field will not persuade us until we are satisfied that their messages represent the facts faithfully (Van Overwalle & Heylighen, 2006).
When asking ourselves about an authority's trustworthiness, we should keep in mind a little tactic compliance practitioners often use to assure us of their sincerity: They will argue somewhat against their own interests. Correctly practiced this approach can be a subtle yet effective device for "proving" their honesty. Perhaps they will mention a small shortcoming in their position or product. Invariably though, the drawback will be a secondary one that is easily overcome by more significant advantages - "Avis: We're number two, but we try harder"; "L'Oreal, We're more expensive but you're worth it." By establishing their basic truthfulness on minor issues, the compliance professionals who use this ploy can then be more believable when stressing the important aspects of their argument (Hunt, Domzal, & Kernan, 1981; Settle & Gorden, 1974; Ward & Brenner, 2006).
(195) This strategy of taking due responsibility for a failure doesn't just work for individuals within an organization. It appears to work for the organizations themselves. Research shows that companies that take blame for poor outcomes in annual reports have higher stock prices one year later than companies that don't take blame for poor outcomes (Lee, peterson, & Tiedens, 2004).
(199) If I did not experience the restricted sector [of the Mormon temple] soon, I would never again have the chance. Something that, on its own merits, held little appeal for me had become decidedly more attractive merely because it was rapidly becoming less available.
Less Is Best and Loss Is Worst
(200) People seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value (Hobfoll, 2001). For instance, college students experienced much stronger emotions when asked to imagine losses as opposed to gains in their romantic relationship or in their grade point averages (Ketelaar, 1995). Especially under conditions of risk and uncertainty, the threat of potential loss plays a powerful role in human decision making (Tversky & Kahneman, 1981; De Dreu & McCusker, 1997).
(202) Author's note: It is worth asking what it is about the idea of loss that makes it to potent in human functioning. One prominent theory accounts for the primacy of loss over gain in evolutionary terms. If one has enough to survive, an increase in resources will be helpful but a decrease in those same resources could be fatal. Consequently, it would be adaptive to be especially sensitive to the possibility of loss (Haselton & Nettle, 2006).
(203) Related to the limited number technique is the "deadline" tactic in which some official time limit is placed on the customer's opportunity to get what the compliance professional is offering. Much like my experience with the Mormon temple's inner sanctum, people frequently find themselves doing what they wouldn't much care to do simply because the time to do so is running out.
(204) So ingrained is the belief that what's scarce is valuable that we have come to believe its obverse as well - that what's valuable is scarce (Cai et al, 2008).
NB: And that what is in abundance is worthless or worth less
(204-205) The weakness is, as before, an _enlightened_ one. We know that the things that are difficult to get are typically better than those that are easy to get (Lynn, 1989). As such, we can often use an item's availability to help us quickly and correctly decide on its quality. Thus, one reason for the potency of the scarcity principle is that, by following it, we are usually and efficiently right (McKenzie & Chase, in press). In addition, there is a unique, secondary source of power within the scarcity principle: As opportunities become less available, we lose freedoms. And we _hate_ to lose the freedoms we already have. This desire to preserve our established prerogatives is the centerpiece of psychological reactance theory, developed by psychologist Jack Brehm to explain the human response to diminishing personal control (JW Brehm,, 1966; Burgoon et al, 2002). According to the theory, whenever free choice is limited or threatened, the need to retain our freedoms makes us want them (as well as goods and services associated with them) significantly more than before. Therefore, when increasing scarcity - or anything else- interferes with our prior access to some item, we will _react against_ the interference by wanting and trying to possess the item more than we did before.
NB: How the Right tends to frame things.
(206) Why should psychological reactance emerge at the age of 2? Perhaps the answer has to do with a crucial change that most children go through about this time. It is then that they first come to a recognition of themselves as individuals (Howe, 2003). No longer do they view themselves as mere extensions of the social milieu but rather as identifiable, singular, and separate beings. This developing concept of autonomy brings naturally with it the concept of freedom. An independent being is one with choices; a child with the newfound realization that he or she is such a being will want to explore the length and breadth of the options. Perhaps we should be neither surprised nor distressed, then, when our 2-year-olds strain incessantly against our will. They have come to a recent and exhilarating perspective of themselves: they are freestanding human entities. Vital questions of choice, rights and control now need to be asked and answered within their small minds. The tendency to fight for every liberty and against every restriction might be best understood, then, as a quest for information. By testing severely the limits of their freedoms (and, coincidently, the patience of their parents), the children are discovering where in their worlds they can expect to be controlled and where to be in control. As we will see later, it is the wise parent who provides highly consistent information….
Two-year-old girls in this study did not show the same resistant response to the large barrier as did the boys. Another study suggested this to be the case not because girls don't oppose attempts to limit their freedoms. Instead, it appears that they are primarily reactant to restrictions that come from other persons rather than from physical barriers.
(207) An enlightened neighbor once advised me, "If you really want to get something done, you've got three options: do it yourself, pay top dollar, or forbid your teenagers to do it." Like the twos, this period is characterized by an emerging sense of individuality. For teenagers, the emergence is out of the role of child, with all of its attendant parental control, and toward the role of adult, with all of its attendant rights and duties. Not surprisingly, adolescents tend to focus less on the duties than on the rights they feel they have as young adults. Not surprisingly, again, imposing traditional parental authority at these times is often counterproductive; teenagers will sneak, scheme, and fight to resist such attempts at control.
Nothing illustrates the boomerang quality of parental pressure on adolescent behavior quite so clearly as a phenomenon known as the "Romeo and Juliet effect."
(209) A similar situation arose a decade earlier several hundred miles south of Kennesaw, when, to protect the environment, Dade County (Miami), Florida, imposed an anti phosphate ordinance prohibiting the use - and possession! - of laundry or cleaning products containing phosphates. A study done to determine the social impact of the law discovered two parallel reactions on the part of Miami residents. First, in what seems a Florida tradition, many Miamians turned to smuggling. Sometimes with neighbors and friends in large "soap caravans," they drove to nearby counties to load up on phosphate detergents. Hoarding quickly developed and, in the rush of obsession that frequently characterizes hoarders, families boasted of having 20-year supplies of phosphate cleaners.
(210) Almost invariably, our response to banned information is to want to receive that information to a greater extent and to become more favorable toward it than we were before the ban. (Ashmore, Ramchandra & Jones, 1971; Wicklund & Brehm, 1974; Worchel & Arnold, 1973; Worchel, 1992).
The intriguing finding about the effects of censored information on an audience is not that audience members want to have the information more than before; that seems natural. Rather, it is that they come to believe in the information more, even though they haven't received it. For example, when University of North Carolina students learned that a speech opposing coed dorms on campus would be banned, they became more opposed to the idea of coed dorms (Worchel, Arnold, & Baker, 1975). Thus, without ever hearing the speech, the students became more sympathetic to its argument. This raises the worrisome possibility that especially clever individuals holding a weak or unpopular position on an issue can get us to agree with that position by arranging to have their message restricted. The irony is that for such people - members of fringe political groups, for example - the most effective strategy may not be to publicize their unpopular views but to get those views officially censored and then to publicize the censorship.
(212) The realization that we value limited information allows us to apply the scarcity principle to realms beyond material commodities. The principle works for messages, communications, and knowledge, too. Taking this perspective, we can see that _information may not have to be censored for us to value it more; it need only be scarce._ According to the scarcity principle, we will find a piece of information more persuasive if we think that we can't get it elsewhere. This idea - that exclusive information is more persuasive information - is central to the thinking of two psychologists, Timothy Brock and Howard Fromkin, who have developed a "commodity theory" analysis of persuasion (Brock, 1968; Fromkin & Brokc, 1971).
(214) The idea that newly experience scarcity is the more powerful kind applies to situations well beyond the bounds of the cookie study. For example, social scientists have determined that such scarcity is a primary cause of political turmoil and violence. Perhaps the most prominent proponent of this argument is James C. Davies (1962,1969) who states that we are most likely to find revolutions at a time when a period of improving economic and social conditions is followed by a short, sharp reversal in those conditions. Thus, it is not the traditionally most downtrodden people - those who have come to see their deprivation as part of the natural order of things - who are especially likely to revolt. Instead, revolutionaries are more likely to be those who have been given at least some taste of a better life. When the economic and social improvements they have experienced and come to expect suddenly become less available, they desire them more than ever and often rise up violently to secure them. For instance, it is little recognized that at the time of the American Revolution, the colonists had the highest standard of living and the lowest taxes in the Western World. According to historian Thomas Fleming (1997), it wasn't until the British sought a cut of this widespread prosperity (by levying taxes) that the Americans revolted.
(215) In keeping with a distinct historical pattern of revolution, blacks in the United States were more rebellious when their prolonged progress was somewhat curtailed than they were before it began. This pattern offers a valuable lesson for would-be rulers: When it comes to freedoms, it is more dangerous to have given for a while than never to have given at all. The problem for a government that seeks to improve the political and economic status of a traditionally oppressed group is that, in so doing, it establishes freedoms for the group where none existed before. Should these now _established_ freedoms become less available, there will be an especially hot variety of hell to pay.
(216) Had they been students of history - or of psychology - the failed plotters [against Gorbachev] would not have been so surprised by the tidal wave of popular resistance that swallowed their coup. From the vantage point of either discipline, they could have learned an invariant lesson: Freedoms once granted will not be relinquished without a fight.
NB: Unless they are eroded away in increments too small to elicit opposition
(218) Not only do we want the same item more when it is scarce, we want it most when we are in competition for it. Advertisers often try to exploit this tendency in us…
When wholly fabricated, the new bidder is commonly described as an outsider with plenty of money: "an out-of-state investor buying for tax purposes" and "a physician and his wife moving into town" are favorites. The tactic, called in some circles "goosing 'em off the fence," can work devastatingly well. The thought of losing out to a rival frequently turns a buyer from hesitant to zealous.
(222) Here's our predicament, then: Knowing the causes and workings of scarcity pressures may not be sufficient to protect us from them because knowing is a cognitive act, and cognitive processes are suppressed by our emotional reaction to scarcity pressures. In fact, this may be the reason for the great effectiveness of scarcity tactics. When they are employed properly, our first line of defense against foolish behavior - a thoughtful analysis of the situation - becomes less likely….
The joy is not in the experiencing of a scarce commodity but in the possessing of it. It is important that we not confuse the two. Whenever we confront the scarcity pressures surrounding some item, we must also confront the question of what it is we want from the item. If the answer is that we want the thing for the social, economic, or psychological benefits of possessing something rare, then, fine; scarcity pressures will give us a good indication of how much we would want to pay for it - the less available it is, the more valuable to us it will be. However, very often we don't want a thing for the pure sake of owning it. we want it, instead for its utility value; we want to eat it or drink it or touch it or hear it or drive it or otherwise use it. In such cases it is vital to remember that scarce things do not taste or feel or sound or ride or work any better _because_ of their limited availability.
(225) Should we find ourselves beset by scarcity pressures in a compliance situation, then, our best response would occur in a two-stage sequence. As soon as we feel the tide of emotional arousal that flows from scarcity influences, we should use that rise in arousal as a signal to stop short. Panicky, feverish reactions have no place in wise compliance decisions. We need to calm ourselves and regain a rational perspective. Once that is done, we can move to the second stage by asking ourselves why we want the item under consideration. If the answer is that we want it primarily for the purpose of owning it, then we should use its availability to help gauge how much we would want to spend for it. However, if the answer is that we want it primarily for its function (that is, we want something good to drive or drink or eat), then we must remember that the item under consideration will function equally well whether scarce or plentiful. Quite simply, we need to recall that the scarce cookies didn't taste any better….
In addition to its effect on the valuation of commodities, the scarcity principle also applies to the way that information is evaluated. Research indicates that the act of limiting access to a message causes individuals to want to receive it more and to become more favorable to it. The latter of these findings - that limited information is more persuasive - seems the more surprising. IN the case of censorship, this effect occurs even when the message has not been received. When a message has been received, it is more effective if it is perceived as consisting of exclusive information.
NB: Access and exclusives in media
(228) Frank Zappa on Joe Pyne's TV show:
Pyne: I guess your long hair makes you a girl.
Zapa: I guess your wooden leg makes you a table….
Very often when we make a decision about someone or something we don't use all of the relevant available information. We use, instead, only a single, highly representative piece of the total. An isolated piece of information,e ben though it normally counsels us correctly, can lead us to clearly stupid mistakes - mistakes that, when exploited by clever others, leave us looking silly or worse.
At the same time, a complicating companion theme has been present throughout this book: Despite the susceptibility to stupid decisions that accompanies a reliance on a single feature of the available data, the pace of modern life demands that we frequently use this shortcut.
(231) Because technology can evolve much faster than we can, our natural capacity to process information is likely to be increasingly inadequate to handle the abundance of change, choice, and challenge that is characteristic of modern life.
(232) …when making a decision, we will less frequently engage in a fully considered analysis of the total situation. In response to this "paralysis of analysis," we will revert increasingly to a focus on a single, usually reliable feature of the situation…
Compliance professionals who play fairly by the rules of shortcut responding are not to be considered the enemy; to the contrary, they are our allies in an efficient and adaptive process of exchange. The proper targets for counter-aggression are only those individuals who falsify, counterfeit, or misrepresent the evidence that naturally cures our shortcut responses.
(233) We should refuse to watch TV programs that use canned laughter. If we see a bartender begin a shift by salting the tip jar with a bill or two, that bartender should get no tip from us. If, after waiting in line outside a nightclub, we discover from the amount of available space that the wait was designed to impress passersby with false evidence of the club's popularity, we should leave immediately and announce our reason to those still in line. In short, we should be willing to use boycott, threat, confrontation, censure, tirade, nearly anything to retaliate...
The real treachery, and what we cannot tolerate, is any attempt to make their profit in a way that threatens the reliability of our shortcuts. The blitz of modern daily life demands that we have faithful shortcuts, sound rules of thumb in order to handle it all. These are no longer luxuries; they are out-and-out necessities that figure to become increasingly vital as the pulse quickens. That is why we should want to retaliate whenever we see someone betraying one of our rules of thumb for profit. We want that rule to be as effective as possible. To the degree that its fitness for duty is regularly undercut by the tricks of a profiteer, we naturally will use it less and will be less able to cope efficiently with the decisional burdens of our day. That we cannot allow without a fight. The stakes are far too high.