Cialdini: Persuasion


According to Cialdini’s “INFLUENCE, The Psychology of Persuasion” there is a rule of reciprocity that requires us to repay what another person has provided us. For example, the author says, “By virtue of the reciprocity rule, then, we are obligated to the future repayment of favors…” In summary, this rule is associated with a sense of obligation that we have as humans to repay or reciprocate an action as a rule of appreciation. “The rule was established to promote the development of reciprocal relationships between individuals so that one person could initiate such a relationship without the fear of loss. If the rule is to serve that purpose, then, an uninvited first favor must have the ability to create an obligation.”  This argument fits with the ideas of safety campaigns because it supports the message that as members of society, we have an obligation to do whatever we are capable of to improve our safety, health, and relationships. The rule of reciprocity can be applied to these campaigns because if the government or bicycling agencies, for example, decide to provide communities with safer roads, they possess a level of power over community members that requires them to pay them back in a similar way. This means they would have to abide by the rules of safety, or the changes in behavior that is being asked of them.

In chapter three, Cialdini talks about Commitment and Consistency, or the power of consistency. “To understand why consistency is so powerful a motive, it is important
to recognize that in most circumstances consistency is valued and adaptive. Inconsistency is commonly thought to be an undesirable personality trait.” Cialdini makes a point in arguing that being consistent has always been highly regarded as beneficial for relationships and careers. The author goes on, “a high degree of consistency is normally associated with personal and intellectual strength. It is at the heart of logic, rationality,
stability, and honesty.” However, there can be such a thing as blind consistency, or unwanted consistency attributed with laziness. An example of this is automatically responding to a stimuli because of previous decisions. This means that we are consistent with what we are comfortable with from decisions in the past. “It allows us a convenient, relatively effortless, and efficient method for dealing with complex daily environments that make severe demands on our mental energies and capacities. ” Another example of blind consistency is considered to be mechanical consistency, which is a form of consistency that we use to respond to stimuli that requires too much effort. “Sometimes it is not the effort of hard, cognitive work that makes us shirk thoughtful activity, but the harsh consequences of that activity.”

Cialdini questions the reasoning behind someone’s consistency, and turns to his conception of commitment. “What produces the click that activates the whirr of the powerful consistency tape? Social psychologists think they know the answer: 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.” Being committed means you need to have consistent behavior. In terms of Dehlhomme’s road safety campaigns, “a message is more likely to have an impact on the behavior if the person receiving it feels motivated to process it.” This involves a sense of commitment and consistency, and according to Cialdini, “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 it.”



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