3 Classic Experiments Reveal How Easy It Is To Influence People

Introduction
As difficult as it is to admit, we listen more often to our emotions than to our minds when making decisions. Sometimes our actions are provoked by mechanisms that remain hidden from us. Four well-known psychological experiments contribute to getting to know some of them, which will help you understand the reasons for the behavior of the people around you.
Last Updated
May 17, 2020

3 Classic Experiments Reveal How Easy It Is to Influence People
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The response experiment

It is based on a simple idea: when one receives something, one is ready to give something in return. Social psychologist Robert Cialdini places this feeling among the six key principles of influence. In 1971, a professor at Cornwall University demonstrated the power of mutual exchange through experimentation.

He made the participants in the study believe that they were actively and equally involved in the evaluation of works of art, together with an expert who was in fact the professor's assistant. At one point, the assistant left the room for a few minutes and returned with soft drinks, which he distributed to some of the volunteers.

At the end of the experiment, the assistant asked the participants for a favor - to buy lottery tickets.

As expected, those who received free fizzy drinks as a friendly gesture of goodwill were much more likely to comply with the request, even though tickets were more expensive than usual. In subsequent experiments, the professor and his team proved that the assistant's personality was not important at all in deciding to buy the lottery ticket and that those who received a non-alcoholic ticket did not need it.

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The step-by-step experiment

It has been scientifically proven that if you initially offer to do something small and then gradually expand the terms and conditions, it will be easier to persuade the other party to do so than if you immediately offer something complicated. The explanation for this phenomenon is in the field of cognitive dissonance. When you take some responsibility, it becomes more difficult to give it up, because it will be contrary to your principles, you will compromise yourself. You will have to dissonant with yourself to abandon the earlier decision. Subsequently, this fact is used in business under the name "Technique: Foot in the door". Its name comes from the practice of street vendors who put a foot on the door once you open it so you can't close until you hear them. The essence of the technique is to get someone to agree to perform some small service before asking them for more.

One of the first studies establishing the principle of gradual action was conducted by Jonathan Friedman and Scott Fraser in 1966. The researchers called hosts in California and kindly asked them to take part in a survey by answering a few questions about a product they were using. Three days later, they called the same women again and asked if they could visit them for no more than half an hour to see how they actually used the product in question. Thus, Friedman and Fraser found that women who initially agreed to answer the survey questions were much more willing to meet in person.

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tactic

The conformism experiment

In his famous series of psychological experiments from 1951, the American psychologist Solomon Ash proved that the "pressure" of the majority's opinion can change the notion of even the most obvious facts. In science, this study is known as Ash's classic experiment, proving the existence of conformism in the group. During the event, Ash shows the participants several vertical lines on two separate boards.

One tray contains a standard line - from 2 inches in some experiments, to 10 - in others. On the other board are drawn three lines: one is the length of the standard, the other two - respectively longer and shorter. Subjects are asked to indicate which of the lines is equal in length to the standard. Participants - 8 substitutes and one subject - are arranged in a semicircle in front of the board. The subject sits penultimate in the row.

All participants are asked to say which of the test lines is equal to the standard. The experiment was prepared so that the subject could hear 7 other opinions before saying his. There are 18 sessions, of which 6 are neutral, in which the substitutes give real, correct answers, and 12 control sessions, in which the substitutes give misleading, wrong answers according to the instructions. As a result, two types of reactions on the part of the subjects are distinguished. In one case, they succumbed in more than half of the attempts (sessions) to the opinion of the majority and expressed an opinion similar to the general opinion of the group, although they subsequently declared that they knew that others were wrong but were insecure in their own your judgment.

In the other case, there were subjects who succumbed in less than half of the attempts and were firmly convinced of their own right, behaved inconsistently. Thus Ash formulates the thesis that conformism is the fruit, in addition to insecurity, of the desire not to be rejected by the group or to be ridiculed.

As difficult as it is to admit, we listen more often to our emotions than to our minds when making decisions. Sometimes our actions are provoked by mechanisms that remain hidden from us. Four well-known psychological experiments contribute to getting to know some of them, which will help you understand the reasons for the behavior of the people around you.

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