Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Now, that's interesting...

Exerpt from a recent post on the Dilbert Blog by Scott Adams:

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...

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

I find this extremely interesting; I believe it has implications for every type of human interaction, from relations between nation-states to business dealings to family relationships, and everything in between...


At Wed Mar 21, 08:54:00 AM PDT, Blogger dkgoodman said...

One of these days I have to read that book by Cialdini. The psychology of influence and motivation fascinates me.

At Wed Mar 21, 01:27:00 PM PDT, Blogger Happy Mask Saleswoman said...

This seems to tie into what you talk about all the time.

But I don't understand. How come people switched opinions just by writing about them?
Does this mean that if I had to write an essay on why homosexuals, fornicators, and women who have abortions are terrible people and are condemned to burn for eternity, I will start to believe it?
Because I totally don't think I would.

At Wed Mar 21, 03:35:00 PM PDT, Blogger unca said...

Please ask me again "months later" if I hold to the opinion below:

"Hitler has had his fair share of criticism over the years but I wonder how many of us have actually considered his accomplishments in an objective light. He did get Germany back on its feet and give the people a sense of pride. In the movies I’ve seen he was very nice to dogs and children. And, really, how much blame should he take for the holocaust? After all, he didn’t set out to kill all the Jews. Sometimes people under you get carried away and you have to let them try their own ideas—you don’t want to be micromanaging all the time. He was a good leader, a terrific speaker, and a man trusted and respected by his people. How many of us can claim as much? It is also well known that he had only one testicle—does anyone know of an instance where he complained about it and carried on as one dealt a raw deal? No-he dealt with his problems like a man, realizing there were more things important than that. We all tend to criticize things we don’t entirely understand and enjoy seeing everything in black and white. I say, let’s give credit where credit is due to this most misunderstood and maligned man."

At Wed Mar 21, 03:59:00 PM PDT, Blogger si said...

hadn't heard of these experiments. i'd be curious if these people held no opinion on these viewpoints, or if they had opposing ones? guess i agree w/unca and hms -- i doubt i would change my mind after writing an opposing opinion on how i feel about, for instance, the war, bush, or saying sacramento is same-o, same-o as our city. :)

At Wed Mar 21, 06:01:00 PM PDT, Blogger blogball said...

When I was in 4th grade I had to write “I will never talk in school without permission” (100 times on the blackboard) I didn’t believe it then and I didn’t believe it months later. Including 5th grade 6th grade 7th grade 8th grade and all through high school.

However I did call unca on the phone just now and he answered the phone yelling “Sieg Heil”. So maybe there is something to this thing.

At Thu Mar 22, 01:29:00 AM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

I think HMS and unca are reductio-ad-absurdium-ing a bit.
Just because the exaggerated cases they suggested wouldn't work doesn't mean the idea is invalid. Obviously, the stronger one's initial opinion, the less effect the declaration of another opinion would have.
But if we have no opinion, or a slight opinion, or even better, an opinion already aligned with what we declare, the declaration will be correspondingly more effective.

At Thu Mar 22, 06:39:00 AM PDT, Blogger unca said...

Actually, I started to agree with you about our exaggerated cases until I wrote an essay for myself on how that was not the case. Today, one day later, I believe it.

At Thu Mar 22, 12:47:00 PM PDT, Blogger blogball said...

Serious Comment: "No really"
I could kind of see this happening in a situation where you are writing for a newspaper that has an agenda and slants to the extreme left (or right). Your job is to write your stories this way regardless of what your own opinion is. After a while with the help of the work environment you might start to believe what you had written in the past even though you didn’t when you first wrote it.

At Fri Mar 23, 10:03:00 PM PDT, Blogger Extrem4 said...

This may be the answer to the war on terrorism. If only we could persuade extremists to write some essays on tolerating the west in a few months the war in Iraq could be solved. I don't suppose Mr Bush is monitoring this blog...maybe the homeland security people might pick up on it and get the message to him. It reminds me of the "funnist joke skit" from Monty Python that allowed the Brits to conquer in WWII.


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