Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Monday, April 2, 2007day link 

 Being consistent
Scott Adams on Dilbert Blog:
I’m reading a great book called “Influence: Science and Practice” by Robert B. Cialdini. It’s full of research and anecdotes about how to influence people. It’s a real eye-opener.

One of the most potent forms of persuasion has to do with people’s innate need to be consistent. Studies show that people will ignore logic and information to be consistent. (In other words, we are moist robots.) According to the research, humans are hardwired for consistency over reason. You already knew that: People don’t switch political parties or religions easily. What you didn’t know is how quickly and easily a manipulator can lock someone into a position.

For example, researchers asked people to write essays in support of a random point of view they did not hold. Months later, when surveyed, the majority held the opinion they wrote about, regardless of the topic. Once a person commits an opinion to writing – even an opinion he does not hold – it soon becomes his actual opinion. Not every time, but MOST of the time. The people in these experiments weren’t exposed to new information before writing their contrived opinions. All they did was sit down and write an opinion they didn’t actually have, and months later it became their actual opinion. The experiment worked whether the volunteers were writing the pro or the con position on the random topic.

Most of the truly stupid things done in this world have to do with this consistency principle. For example, once you define yourself as a loyal citizen of Elbonia, you do whatever the King of Elbonia tells you to do, no matter how stupid that is. And your mind invents reasons as to why dying is a perfectly good life strategy.
It's an odd thing. We bend over backwards to appear to be normal and consistent and logical, and in doing so, we tend to become easy to manipulate, and we'll do crazy things without even blinking.
[ | 2007-04-02 21:10 | 24 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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