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Liking, Scarcity, and Reciprocity
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Liking, Scarcity, and Reciprocity

Liking, Scarcity, and Reciprocity
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It turns out that a lot of our behavior falls in the category of fixed action patterns. What that means that, we have a stimulus in the environment. And will respond to that stimulus very quickly, automatically, without necessarily engaging our mind. Without thinking about that response too much. Somebody says thank you, say you’re welcome. Somebody sneezes, you say bless you. You don’t necessarily think about those responses for too long. It turns out that a lot of our compliance, and therefore influence, could be understood to these fixed action patterns. Social proof and authority tactics that we discussed earlier fall into the category of fixed action patterns. So do liking, scarcity, and resposity which we’re about to discuss now.
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Robert Cialdini, who is a psychologist at Arizona State University, did a lot of influential work on the subject. Really raising our levels of awareness with respect to the importance of these tactics.
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At this point, I’d like to take you back in time, all the way to 1960. Which was the year of the first televised presidential debate in the United States between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Before the debate, Nixon refused professional makeup. In contrast, Kennedy hired a professional studio makeup artist to obtain this very healthy, TV friendly glow.
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Throughout the debate, Nixon appeared very pale, nervous, sweaty he kept wiping off sweat throughout the entire debate. And came across significantly less likeable than Kennedy. After the debate, the polls were incredibly revealing.
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Nixon was viewed as the winner of the debate by radio listeners. None of whom saw the imagery I’m showing you now.
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But Kennedy was viewed as an overwhelming winner of the debate by the TV viewers. And this brings us to the importance of liking, which is a very powerful influence tactic. We tent to be influenced by, and were more likely to say yes to the request coming from people we know and like. Now how do you get liked? Physical attractiveness helps and drawing on similarities. There is a lot of research in applied psychology on the importance of physical attractiveness. Physically attractive waitress get high tips, you can the studies that I’m showing you here. Physically attractive candidates receive more than two and a half times the vote of unattractive ones in Canadian federal elections.
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Attractive defendants are twice as likely to avoid incarceration as unattractive ones. Recall from our discussion of performance evaluations under the rubric of implicit personality theory that we tend to assign all sorts of positive attributes to physically attractive individuals. Greater levels of social competence, intellect, integrity and even status.
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So how do you manufacture a liking? Personal appearance matters, dress neatly, keep in mind also business attire, formal business attire triggers the authority influence tactic.
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Emphasize similarities with the person you’re trying to influence. Those could range from you and I went to the same school. We both cheer for the same football club, or our children happen to be in the same age group. Engage in dialogue prior to making requests, research by Dia Stravinsky showed that those who engaged in dialogue prior to making a request, attain levels of compliance that were about three times higher than those who started with a monologue and proceeded with a request. And that initial dialogue can be very short. Hey, how are you feeling today? Waiting for the response. And then asking, can you help me with this? As opposed to monologue. Hey can you do this for me?
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The second tactic I would like for us to discuss here is based on the premise of scarcity. It turns out that we assign more value to things and items we perceive as being less available. Again, it’s one of those influence tactics that we all fall prey to on a daily basis. Buy now, while supplies last, limited time offer, there are only three tickets remaining at this price. All of these are marketing tricks to activate scarcity. The effect of scarcity sometimes are borderline ridiculous. Where in some studies people who were offered the same cookies from two different jar. In one jar there were two cookies, in the second jar there were ten.
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The cookies that came from the first jar with two cookies in it, were deemed consistently more delicious. Again, same cookie. To activate scarcity, you wanna emphasize uniqueness of opportunities. So for example, this is a unique opportunity to join our team in the period of fast grow and expansion. It has to be true of course. Limited quantities Lululemon is particularly known for strategically managing their levels of inventory so you’re always scrambling to get that new yoga shirt. Apple too. With every new product release they create this buzz around shortages and inventory. Emphasizing time constraints. Exclusive information, actual scarcity I would like to give you an example of using scarcity as an influence tactic that I find particularly amusing.
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For those of you who are hockey fans you may remember that several years ago the Pittsburgh Penguins which is an NHL team moved into a new arena
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to complete the construction of the facility of that magnitude you need to do a stress test of your plumbing system. The way you test your plumbing system is you flush all your toilets at the same time. This particular hawk arena had 400 toilets. So the team was looking for 400 flushers to come in and flush the toilets. But look at the ad on the ESPN website, students already involved in the ticketing program can enter for a chance to win to be a flusher, it’s a brilliant use of the scarcity tactic. Another tactic I would like for us to discuss is reciprocity. It’s based on this very powerful premise that we as human beings our unwilling to accumulate social debt.
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And when we do, we’re obligated to reciprocate.
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Obtaining a high response rate to surveys is an important outcome in a variety of fields. We collect information through surveys from our customers, from our suppliers, from our strategic partners. What Jameson Boldstein showed is that when you include a $5 check with the request to complete the survey, that generate the response rate that was more than twice a high as in the condition when you promised people a $50 check upon the completion of the survey. You’re already holding something in your hands. You’re obligated to reciprocate. The personalized address labels that you receive with a request for donations from numerous non-profits. That’s a very strategic way to activate reciprocity and use it as an influence tactic.
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In fact, there is a study done at one of the non-profits, disabled American veterans, that found that once they started to include this personalized address labels with request for donations, the response rate nearly doubled from 18% to 35%. So how do we use reciprocity, offer resources, help collaboration? Consider both social and professional resources. What I mean by this is that we can help with work related projects. But we can help with issues and challenges outside of work too. So for example, your colleague’s kids might be interested in tennis and you happen to know a competent tennis instructor who’s available. If you cannot help directly, think about how your contacts can help.
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We often don’t help because we underestimate the reach and the resources available in our network. So I may not know a tennis instructor directly, but some of my contacts may. So going forward, keep in mind liking, scarcity, and reciprocity it’s three very powerful influence tactics that we’re adding to your portfolio of influence tools.
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