3 November 2013

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE, making friends, and mind control

What if I told you that you can get in good terms with any enemy, nemesis, hater etc. (Let’s just say someone who doesn’t like you) just by getting them to do you a favor?
As crazy as it sounds, The Ben Franklin effect (as known in the world of psychology) is a paradigm of cognitive dissonance, a well proven theory that states that any conflicting ideas in someone’s brain will be reevaluated and straightened out in order to ease an individual’s internal conflicts.
In layman’s terms, this theory comes to say that your mind can only have one STRONG attitude at a time against something (someone in this case), so if you hate someone and do him a favor, contradiction will make you re-evaluate the situation concerning this guy, and make you think you don’t hate him as much (if no strong external justification is present) because after all, if you did, you wouldn’t do him any favor.  
This of course, can be difficult to do into real life, but social courtesy makes everyone subject to the rules of interaction that lead our daily lives. (In other words, asking someone in a normal context if he can help you get your wallet that just fell to the floor will 99% of the times end up in him helping you, unless he is a real asshole).

Funnily enough, this paradigm in used by salesman and marketing companies under a attitudinal change strategy known as foot-on-the-door, where a person will ask you to do something that won’t bother you (and that could potentially be in line with your beliefs), such as posting a small sign supporting something really obvious (i.e. drinking clean water, no one would be against that!!!). Once you have done this, and evaluated yourself as a good person who helps salesmen out, the same guy will come back, but now with a bigger sign that will no longer represent your point of view towards something, and he will surely ask you to put it in your front yard.
Research has proven you will now be prone to do it (believe it or not), or at least, more than if he came with that same sign in the first place. Further research on the foot on the door strategy shows it even works with two different salesmen (one asking the favor first and the other one afterword), and you will still be likely to help them out.

So be savvy consumers, and know that cognitive dissonance is used and will be used against you to get you to comply with some other person’s ideas of what you should do. Never help someone who wants to sell you something and use cognitive dissonance in your advantage now that you know what it is!!

Written by Fernando Perez, thanks! :)


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