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“I am in control of my actions” is a simple statement about something that we hope is true. We feel confident in our decision-making and ability to control our surroundings. However, this is far from the truth. In a famous 1979 study, researchers Beaman, et al. proved that your environment could cause you to be persuaded to do something you generally would not do. This could be a simple as staying in a smoking room or as complex as purchasing an expensive item.
The point of their experiment was to determine the types of manipulations they could use to induce changes in behavior. They placed a bowl of candy in a room and left a child unattended with the instructions to take only one piece of candy. They found that 34% of children took more than one piece; however, when there was a mirror present and the child could see their own reflection, there was a decline to 12%. They were able to conclude that the environment persuaded the children to act in a particular manner.
Another example is the Milgram Experiment. The tests began in 1961, and to this day they are viewed as controversial, to the point of being cruel and damaging participants psychologically. In essence, what the experimenters were hoping to observe how people could be persuaded to act out of the ordinary. This stemmed from Nazi Germany, where there were individuals who carried out their job with malice.
Changing attitude and persuasion
There are traps that foil plans of persuasion. These traps are easily avoidable if you know the ways in which they work. People have resistance to the effects of persuasion that are useful to know. Here are ways that people have resistance.
Although technology may increase methods for persuading people there is also increasingly new technology to give people the power to avoid being persuaded. For example, Caller ID on phones allows people to make decisions about if they choose to answer or not. Technology offers people a chance to rethink and learn before being persuaded to buy or do something.
A strong resistance to persuasion is inoculation. Inoculation occurs when a person is forewarned of possible persuasion or forewarned that a product does not work no matter how great the advertising make it sounds. For example, say you are trying to persuade a roommate to move out on their own terms instead of you kicking them out; if someone forewarns your roommate of your plan it could backfire.
People have strong attitudes and that can be difficult to try and change. For example, you might buy the same brand of butter that your parents used to. You might disregard anyone that might try to persuade you to switch brands because you trust the brands your parents bought.
The wearout effect can easily be found in advertising. It is when a person is extensively exposed to ads and results in the person starts to have negative feelings towards to the ads from the over exposure.
Changing attitude takes patience.
Reciprocity – People are simple creatures, who are more likely to pay attention to what you are requesting if they are receiving something. Go back to the days when you spent hours on the playground. The most popular youngster was always the one who shared the best snacks. Coincidence? I think not!
Scarcity – The less something is available, the more people have to have it. Use this to your advantage. Make your request seem unique and appear like it is going to expire immediately.
Authority – People respond to people who put authoritative force over opposing opinions. Now, I’m not saying you should make your subject cower in a corner in fetal position, but a little extra oomph may be the push needed to put your request into action.
Consistency – Changing attitude is going to be your biggest challenge here. People do not like to contradict themselves. You already know that your idea is better than theirs; you just have to make them see it. Perhaps show an interest in their lives and see if you can weave your request in there.
Consensus – Your final technique is to show your subject how you want your request to be carried out. People like to gage what others are doing before they make their final decision, so make your request seem popular. Make it seem like it’s the next Snuggie or Shake Weight. You might acquire a secret sidekick to enthusiastically show support for your request.