[Book Notes] 20 insights: Influence

Influence is a classic book (link here) on the techniques that can be used for influencing the decisions and behaviors of others. This book is full of insights and my key selection are below.


#1:

Animals exhibit actions called fixed-action patterns. These actions can involve intricate sequences of behavior, such as entire courtship or mating rituals. A fundamental characteristic of these patterns is that the behaviors that compose them occur in virtually the same fashion and in the same order every time. But there is a quirk in the system. It is not the rival male (or the entire animal) as a whole that is the trigger; it is some specific feature of him, the trigger feature. For instance, that a male robin, acting as if a rival robin had entered its territory, will vigorously attack nothing more than a clump of robin-redbreast feathers placed there. At the same time, it will virtually ignore a perfect stuffed replica of a male robin without red breast feathers.

The automatic, fixed-action patterns of these animals work very well the great majority of the time. Humans, too, have our preprogrammed tapes; and, although they usually work to our advantage, the trigger features that activate them can be used to dupe us into playing them at the wrong times.


When we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do. Researchers found that people comply to our requests more if we include the word “because” in our request. People agree to such requests even if there is no real reason after the word “because”.

 

#2:

The contrast principle affects the way we see the difference between two things that are presented one after another.

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 trying the light one.

The same principle applies to a man who wishes to buy the accessories (shirt, shoes, belt) to go along with his new suit. As sales motivation analysts Whitney, Hubin, and Murphy state, “The interesting thing is that even when a man enters a clothing store with the express purpose of purchasing a suit, he will almost always pay more for whatever accessories he buys if he buys them after the suit purchase than before.”


Other examples of the contrast principle:

(a) Students take turns sitting in front of three pails of water—one cold, one at room temperature, and one hot. After placing one hand in the cold water and one in the hot water, the student is told to place both in the lukewarm water simultaneously. Even though both hands are in the same bucket, the hand that has been in the cold water feels as if it is now in hot water, while the one that was in the hot water feels as if it is now in cold water.

(b) When showing a new set of customers potential buys, housing agents start with a couple of undesirable houses. They are what housing agents refers to as “setup” properties. These houses were not intended to be sold to customers but to be shown to them, so that the genuine properties in the company’s inventory would benefit from the comparison.

 

#3:

Rule of reciprocation: The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us

This “web of indebtedness” is a unique adaptive mechanism of human beings, allowing for the division of labor, the exchange of diverse forms of goods, the exchange of different services (making it possible for experts to develop), and the creation of a cluster of interdependencies that bind individuals together into highly efficient units. Human societies derive a truly significant competitive advantage from the reciprocity rule, and consequently they make sure their members are trained to comply with and believe in it.


In 1985, an earthquake stuck in Mexico city. Officials of the Ethiopian Red Cross decided to send the money to help the victims of that year’s earthquakes in Mexico City. Despite the enormous needs prevailing in Ethiopia, the money was being sent because Mexico had sent aid to Ethiopia in 1935, when it was invaded by Italy. Therefore, Ethiopia wanted to reciprocate the favor that they had received from Mexico.


Therefore, due to this principle, people we might ordinarily dislike can greatly increase the chance that we will do what they wish merely by providing us with a small favor prior to their requests. For example the free sample has a long and effective history as a marketing ploy. In most instances, a small amount of the relevant product is provided to potential customers for the stated purpose of allowing them to try it to see if they like it. And certainly this is a legitimate desire of the manufacturer—to expose the public to the qualities of the product. The beauty of the free sample, however, is that it is also a gift and, as such, can engage the reciprocity rule.


The obligation to receive also reduces our ability to choose whom we wish to be indebted to and puts that power in the hands of others.

 

#4:

Small first favors can often stimulate larger return favors

Why? One important reason concerns the clearly unpleasant character of the feeling of indebtedness. Because reciprocal arrangements are so vital in human social systems, we have been conditioned to be uncomfortable when beholden. If we were to ignore breezily the need to return another’s initial favor, we would stop one reciprocal sequence dead and would make it less likely that our benefactor would do such favors in the future. Neither event is in the best interests of society. Consequently, we are trained from childhood to chafe, emotionally, under the saddle of obligation. For this reason alone, then, we may be willing to agree to perform a larger favor than we received, merely to relieve ourselves of the psychological burden of debt.


Another consequence of the reciprocity rule is an obligation to make a concession to someone who has made a concession to us. Why? The answer rests once again in the benefit of such a tendency to the society. It is in the interests of any human group to have its members working together toward the achievement of common goals. However, in many social interactions the participants begin with requirements and demands that are unacceptable to one another. Thus the society must arrange to have these initial, incompatible desires set aside for the sake of socially beneficial cooperation. This is accomplished through procedures that promote compromise. Mutual concession is one important such procedure.

 

#5:

Because the rule for reciprocation governs the compromise process, it is possible to use an initial concession as part of a highly effective compliance technique. The technique is a simple one that we can call the rejection-then-retreat technique. Suppose you want me to agree to a certain request. One way to increase your chances would be first to make a larger request of me, one that I will most likely turn down. Then, after I have refused, you would make the smaller request that you were really interested in all along. Provided that you have structured your requests skillfully, I should view your second request as a concession to me and should feel inclined to respond with a concession of my own, the only one I would have immediately open to me—compliance with your second request.

This tactic is used by door-to-door salesperson. Their most important goal is to make the sale. However, the training programs of their companies emphasized that a second important goal was to obtain from prospects the names of referrals—friends, relatives, or neighbors on whom we could call. Since the customer rejected the initial offer (for the sale)…the customers feels obligated to comply with the second request.


The larger-then-smaller-request procedure makes use of the contrast principle by making the smaller request look even smaller by comparison with the larger one.

******************

The victims of the strategy might resent having been cornered into compliance. First, the victim might decide not to live up to the verbal agreement made with the requester. Second, the victim might come to distrust the manipulative requester, deciding never to deal with him again. Research indicates, however, that these victim reactions do not occur with increased frequency when the rejection-then-retreat technique is used. Somewhat astonishingly, it appears that they actually occur less frequently!


For an answer, we might look at the requester’s act of concession, which is the heart of the procedure. We have already seen that as long as it is not viewed to be a transparent trick, the concession will likely stimulate a return concession. But what we have not yet examined is a little-known pair of positive by-products of the act of concession: feelings of greater responsibility for, and satisfaction with, the arrangement. Those subjects facing the opponent who used the retreating strategy felt most responsible for the final deal. Much more than the subjects who faced a non-changing negotiation opponent, these subjects reported that they had successfully influenced the opponent to take less money for himself. The requester’s concession within the technique not only causes targets to say yes more often, it also causes them to feel more responsible for having “dictated” the final agreement.


Thus the uncanny ability of the rejection-then-retreat technique to make its targets meet their commitments becomes understandable: A person who feels responsible for the terms of a contract will be more likely to live up to that contract.

 

#6:

Commitment: If I can get you to make a commitment (that is, to take a stand, to go on record), I will have set the stage for your automatic and ill-considered consistency with that earlier commitment.

We have an obsessive desire to be (and to appear) consistent with what we have already done. For e.g just after placing a bet, a person is much more confident of his horse’s chances of winning than he was immediately before laying down that bet. Of course, nothing about the horse’s chances actually shifts; it’s the same horse, on the same track, in the same field; but in the minds of the bettor, its prospects improve significantly once that ticket is purchased.


John Howard conducted a study. In this study, callers began either with the question “How are you feeling this evening?” (and waited for a response before proceeding) or with the statement “I hope you are feeling well this evening” and then proceeded to the standard solicitation approach. Despite the fact that the caller started each type of interaction with a warm and friendly comment, the “How are you feeling” technique was, by far, superior to its rival (33 percent vs. 15 percent compliance), because it alone drew an exploitable public commitment from its targets. Note that the commitment was able to get twice as much compliance from those targets even though at the time it occurred it must have seemed to them an altogether inconsequential reply to an altogether superficial question.

 

#7:

The tactic of starting with a little request in order to gain eventual compliance with related larger requests has a name: the foot-in-the-door technique.

All of the foot-in-the-door experts seem to be excited about the same thing: You can use small commitments to manipulate a person’s self-image; you can use them to turn citizens into “public servants,” prospects into “customers,” prisoners into “collaborators.” And once you’ve got a man’s self-image where you want it, he should comply naturally with a whole range of your requests that are consistent with this view of himself.


Example about Chinese prisons: Observers trying to decide what a man is like look closely at his actions. The Chinese discovered that the man himself uses this same evidence to decide what he is like. Writing was one sort of confirming action that the Chinese urged incessantly upon the prisoners. It was never enough for the prisoners to listen quietly or even to agree verbally with the Chinese line; they were always pushed to write it down as well. So intent were the Chinese on securing a written statement that if a prisoner was not willing to write a desired response freely, he was prevailed upon to copy. Think of the double-barreled effects on the self-image of a prisoner who wrote a pro-Chinese or anti-American statement. Not only was it a lasting personal reminder of his action, it was also likely to persuade those around him that the statement reflected his actual beliefs. What those around us think is true of us is enormously important in determining what we ourselves think is true. For example, one study found that after hearing that they were considered charitable people, New Haven, Connecticut, housewives gave much more money to a canvasser from the Multiple Sclerosis Association. Apparently the mere knowledge that someone viewed them as charitable caused these women to make their actions consistent with another’s perception of them.


Once an active commitment is made, then, self-image is squeezed from both sides by consistency pressures. From the inside, there is a pressure to bring self-image into line with action. From the outside, there is a sneakier pressure—a tendency to adjust this image according to the way others perceive us.

 

#8:

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 pressures. External pressure may get us to perform a certain action, but it won’t get us to accept inner responsibility for the act. Consequently, we won’t feel committed to it. The same is true of a strong threat; it may motivate immediate compliance, but it is unlikely to produce long-term commitment.


Written testaments are effective in bringing about genuine personal change is that they can so easily be made public. Public commitments tend to be lasting commitments. In one study, when six- or twelve-person experimental juries were deciding a close case, hung juries were significantly more frequent if the jurors had to express their opinions with a visible show of hands rather than by secret ballot. Once jurors had stated their initial views publicly, they were reluctant to allow themselves to change publicly, either. Should you ever find yourself as the foreperson of a jury under these conditions, then, you could reduce the risk of a hung jury by choosing a secret rather than public balloting technique. The Deutsch and Gerard finding that we are truest to our decisions if we have bound ourselves to them publicly can be put to good use. Consider the organizations dedicated to helping people rid themselves of bad habits. Many weight-reduction clinics, for instance, understand that often a person’s private decision to lose weight will be too weak.


Yet another reason that written commitments are so effective is that they require more work than verbal ones. And the evidence is clear that the more effort that goes into a commitment, the greater is its ability to influence the attitudes of the person who made.

 

#9:

Principle of social proof: It states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct

Experiments have found that the use of canned merriment causes an audience to laugh longer and more often when humorous material is presented and to rate the material as funnier. In addition, some evidence indicates that canned laughter is most effective for poor jokes. We have become so accustomed to taking the humorous reactions of others as evidence of what deserves laughter that we, too, can be made to respond to the sound and not to the substance of the real thing.


Bartenders often “salt” their tip jars with a few dollar bills at the beginning of the evening to simulate tips left by prior customers and thereby to give the impression that tipping with folding money is proper barroom behavior. Advertisers love to inform us when a product is the “fastest-growing” or “largest-selling” because they don’t have to convince us directly that the product is good, they need only say that many others think so, which seems proof enough.


In the process of examining the reactions of other people to resolve our uncertainty, however, we are likely to overlook a subtle but important fact. Those people are probably examining the social evidence, too. Especially in an ambiguous situation, the tendency for everyone to be looking to see what everyone else is doing can lead to a fascinating phenomenon called “pluralistic ignorance.”

We use the actions of others to decide on proper behavior for ourselves, especially when we view those others as similar to ourselves.

 

#10:

Werther Effect: immediately following a front-page suicide story the suicide rate increases dramatically in those geographical areas where the story has been highly publicized

Professor Phillips’s argument is that certain troubled people who read of another’s self-inflicted death kill themselves in imitation. In a morbid illustration of the principle of social proof, these people decide how they should act on the basis of how some other troubled person has acted.


Therefore, Phillips reasoned, if the principle of social proof is behind the phenomenon, there should be some clear similarity between the victim of the highly publicized suicide and those who cause subsequent wrecks. Realizing that the clearest test of this possibility would come from the records of automobile crashes involving a single car and a lone driver, Phillips compared the age of the suicide-story victim with the ages of the lone drivers killed in single-car crashes immediately after the story appeared in print. Once again the predictions were strikingly accurate: When the newspaper detailed the suicide of a young person, it was young drivers who then piled their cars into trees, poles, and embankments with fatal results; but when the news story concerned an older person’s suicide, older drivers died in such crashes.

 

#11:

Halo Effect: It occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates the way that person is viewed by others

The evidence is clear that physical attractiveness is often such a characteristic. Good-looking people are likely to receive highly favorable treatment in the legal system. We like people who are similar to us. This fact seems to hold true whether the similarity is in the area of opinions, personality traits, background, or life-style. Dress is a good example. Several studies have demonstrated that we are more likely to help those who dress like us.


To prove the point to yourself, try a little experiment. Get the negative of an old photograph that shows a front view of your face and have it developed into a pair of pictures—one that shows you as you actually look and one that shows a reverse image (so that the right and left sides of your face are interchanged). Now decide which version of your face you like better and ask a good friend to make the choice, too. If you are at all like a group of Milwaukee women on whom this procedure was tried, you should notice something odd: Your friend will prefer the true print, but you will prefer the reverse image. Why? Because you both will be responding favorably to the more familiar face—your friend to the one the world sees, and you to the transposed one you find in the mirror every day.


In another 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.

 

#12:

There is a natural human tendency to dislike a person who brings us unpleasant information, even when that person did not cause the bad news. The simple association with it is enough to stimulate our dislike.


In one study, men who saw a new-car ad that included a seductive young woman model rated the car as faster, more appealing, more expensive-looking, and better designed than did men who viewed the same ad without the model. The linking of celebrities to products is another way advertisers cash in on the association principle.


Razran’s luncheon technique:  In 1938, psychologist Gregory Razran found that his subjects developed a more favorable view of the people and things they experienced while they were eating – a result Razran coined as the “luncheon technique.” 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. Therefore, salesmen take their clients on “wine and dine” and men take women out to dinner on first dates because they are more likely to approve of and like what you say.


In one experiment showing how wearing apparel can serve to proclaim such an association, researchers counted the number of school sweatshirts worn on Monday mornings by students on the campuses of seven prominent football universities: Arizona State, Louisiana State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Southern California. The results showed that many more home-school shirts were worn if the football team had won its game on the prior Saturday. What’s more, the larger the margin of victory, the more such shirts appeared.


Have you noticed, for example, how often after a home-team victory fans crowd into the range of a TV camera, thrust their index fingers high, and shout, “We’re number one! We’re number one!” Note that the call is not “They’re number one” or even “Our team is number one.” The pronoun is “we,” designed to imply the closest possible identity with the team. Note also that nothing similar occurs in the case of failure. No television viewer will ever hear the chant, “We’re in last place! We’re in last place!” Home-team defeats are the times for distancing oneself. Here “we” is not nearly as preferred as the insulating pronoun “they.”

 

#13:

Obedience to authority: A multilayered and widely accepted system of authority confers an immense advantage upon a society. It allows the development of sophisticated structures for resource production, trade, defense, expansion, and social control that would otherwise be impossible. The other alternative, anarchy, is a state that is hardly known for its beneficial effects on cultural groups and one that the social philosopher Thomas Hobbes assures us would render life “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”


When a legitimate authority has given an order, subordinates stop thinking in the situation and start reacting.


Titles are simultaneously the most difficult and the easiest symbols of authority to acquire. To earn one normally takes years of work and achievement. Yet it is possible for somebody who has put in none of this effort to adopt the mere label and receive a kind of automatic deference.


Studies investigating the way in which authority status affects perceptions of size have found that prestigious titles lead to height distortions. In judging the size of coins, for example, children most overestimate the size of the more valuable coins.


Fur, fins, and feathers. Isn’t it interesting how these most delicate of parts can be exploited to give the impression of substance and weight? There are two lessons for us here. One is specific to the association between size and status. The connection of those two things can be profitably employed by individuals who are able to fake the first to gain the appearance of the second. This is precisely why con men, even those of average or slightly above-average height, commonly wear lifts in their shoes.


The well-tailored business suit is used for the above as well. It can evoke a telling form of deference from total strangers. Research conducted in Texas, for instance, arranged for a thirty-one-year-old man to violate the law by crossing the street against the traffic light on a variety of occasions. In half of the cases, he was dressed in a freshly pressed business suit and tie; on the other occasions, he wore a work shirt and trousers. The researchers watched from a distance and counted the number of pedestrians waiting at the corner who followed the man across the street. Like the children of Hamelin who crowded after the Pied Piper, three and a half times as many people swept into traffic behind the suited jaywalker. In this case, though, the magic came not from his pipe but his pinstripes.


According to the findings of a study done in the San Francisco Bay area, owners of prestige autos receive a special kind of deference from us. The experimenters discovered that motorists would wait significantly longer before honking their horns at a new, luxury car stopped in front of a green traffic light than at an older, economy model.


The approach taken should vary with the situation. For e.g. the author talks about the style of a waiter, who received large tips. The author learned that the waiter’s style was to have no single style. He had a repertoire of them, each ready to be called on under the appropriate circumstances. When the customers were a family, he was effervescent—even slightly clownish—directing his remarks as often to the children as to the adults. With a young couple on a date, he became formal and a bit imperious in an attempt to intimidate the young man (to whom he spoke exclusively) into ordering and tipping lavishly. With an older, married couple, he retained the formality but dropped the superior air in favor of a respectful orientation to both members of the couple. Should the patron be dining alone, he selected a friendly demeanor—cordial, conversational, and warm.

 

#14:

“Terrible Twos”: Two-year-olds seem masters of the art of resistance to outside, especially parental, pressure: Tell them one thing, they do the opposite; give them one toy, they want another. Why should psychological reactance emerge at the age of two? It is at this age that they first come to a full recognition of themselves as individuals. No longer do they view themselves as mere extensions of the social milieu but rather as identifiable, singular, and separate.This developing concept of autonomy brings naturally with it the concept of freedom. An independent being is one with choices; and 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 two-year-olds strain incessantly against our will. They have come to a recent and exhilarating perspective on themselves as free-standing human entities.


Therefore, we show the strong tendency to react against restrictions on our freedoms of action throughout our lives. One other age does stand out, however, as a time when this tendency takes an especially rebellious form: teenage. Like the “terrible twos”, this is a period characterized by an emerging sense of individuality. For teenagers, the emergence is from 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.

 

#15:

When our freedom to have something is limited, the item becomes less available, then we experience an increased desire for it.

However, we rarely recognize that psychological reactance has caused us to want the item more; all we know is that we want it. Still, we need to make sense of our desire for the item, so we begin to assign it positive qualities to justify the desire. After all, it is natural to suppose that if one feels drawn to something, it is because of the merit of the thing.


The intriguing thing about the effects of censoring information is not that audience members want to have the information more than they did 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. Thus, without ever hearing the speech, they became more sympathetic to its argument.


This raises the worrisome possibility that especially clever individuals holding a weak or unpopular position 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.

 

#16:

People seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value. For instance, homeowners told how much money they could lose from inadequate insulation are more likely to insulate their homes than those told how much money they could save.


Probably the most straightforward use of the scarcity principle occurs in the “limited-number” tactic, when the customer is informed that a certain product is in short supply that cannot be guaranteed to last long.

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.


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. According to the theory, whenever free choice is limited or threatened, the need to retain our freedoms makes us desire them (as well as the goods and services associated with them) significantly more than previously. So 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 before.


 

#17:

Participants in a consumer-preference study were given a chocolate-chip cookie from a jar and asked to taste and rate its quality. For half of the raters, the jar contained ten cookies; for the other half, it contained just two. As we might expect from the scarcity principle, when the cookie was one of the only two available, it was rated more favorably than when it was one of ten. The cookie in short supply was rated as more desirable to eat in the future, more attractive as a consumer item, and more costly than the identical cookie in abundant supply.

Some variations of this experiment were tried. In the first variation, rather than rating the cookies under conditions of constant scarcity, some participants were first given a jar of ten cookies that was then replaced by a jar of two cookies. Thus, before taking a bite, certain of the participants saw their abundant supply of cookies reduced to a scarce supply. Other participants, however, knew only scarcity of supply from the outset, since the number of cookies in their jars was left at two. With this procedure, the researchers were seeking to answer a question about types of scarcity: Do we value more those things that have recently become less available to us, or those things that have always been scarce? In the cookie experiment, the answer was plain. The drop from abundance to scarcity produced a decidedly more positive reaction to the cookies than did constant scarcity.


The idea that newly experienced 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, who states that we are most likely to find revolutions where 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—who have come to see their deprivation as part of the natural order of things—who are especially liable 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.


In another variation, the cookies were consumed by other people in front of the participant. The results showed that those whose cookies became scarce through the process of social demand liked them significantly more than those whose cookies became scarce by mistake. In fact, the cookies made less available through social demand were rated the most desirable of any in the study.


This finding highlights the importance of competition in the pursuit of limited resources. Not only do we want the same item more when it is scarce, we want it most when we are in competition for it. There is a noticeable parallel between the ways that commercial fishermen and department stores generate a competitive fury in those they wish to hook. To attract and arouse the catch, fishermen scatter some loose bait called chum. For similar reasons, department stores holding a bargain sale toss out a few especially good deals on prominently advertised items called loss leaders. If the bait, of either form, has done its job, a large and eager crowd forms to snap it up. Soon, in the rush to score, the group becomes agitated, nearly blinded, by the adversarial nature of the situation. Humans and fish alike lose perspective on what they want and begin striking at whatever is being contested.

 

#18:

The joy is not in experiencing a scarce commodity but in possessing 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. But very often we don’t want a thing purely for the 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.

 

#19:

Initiation rituals (fraternity initiation activities) are acts of group survival. They function, oddly enough, to spur future society members to find the group more attractive and worthwhile. The loyalty and dedication of those who emerge will increase to a great degree the chances of group cohesiveness and survival.

Military groups and organizations conduct very rigorous initiation rituals as well.

 

#20:

A common influence tactic is: an advantage is offered that induces a favorable purchase decision; then, sometime after the decision has been made but before the bargain is sealed, the original purchase advantage is deftly removed. It seems almost incredible that a customer would buy the product under these circumstances. Yet it works! Automobile dealers have come to understand the ability of a personal commitment to build its own support system, a support system of new justifications for the commitment. Often these justifications provide so many strong legs for the decision to stand on that when the dealer pulls away only one leg, the original one, there is no collapse.


Another experiment demonstrates this. The experiment was done in summer on Iowans whose homes were cooled by central air-conditioning. Those homeowners who were promised newspaper publicity decreased their electricity use by 27.8 percent during July, as compared to similar homeowners who were not promised any coverage or who were not contacted at all. At the end of July, a letter was sent canceling the publicity promise. Rather than reverting to their old habits, the lowballed residents increased their August energy savings to a stunning 41.6 percent. Much like Sara, they appeared to have become committed to a choice through an initial inducement and were still more dedicated to it after the inducement had been removed.