Changing perceptions and building influence

Evolutionary psychologists would suggest that we are hardwired to immediately respond to someone we see for the first time in one of four possible ways: 1) as an ally; 2) as an enemy; 3) as a potential mate; or 4) with indifference. The default response is indifference. (It can very quickly become any one of the other three). One can see this simply walking down the street. The vast majority of people pay no attention to you. The challenge becomes converting indifference to alliance or intimacy. Clearly, it’s much easier to execute the former. Jecker and Landy researched something that is now known as the “Ben Franklin Effect”: Get someone to do a small favor for you. (“Would you watch my place in line?”) Research shows that we like people for whom we’ve done favors. As Benjamin Franklin had once noted, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.” So, while another person may be initially resistant to you (I believe it’s merely indifference) the easiest, least painful—and counterintuitive–way to begin influencing someone is by not doing them a kindness but asking them to perform one for you.

-John Carpenter via Youtube comment


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