Commitment & Consistency

The Issue: One of Cialdini’s six principles of influence is commitment (and consistency) which says that individuals desire to be consistent especially when it comes to prior commitments and behavior.

Major Strength: Cialdini offers several examples of times that consistency has successfully worked to influence individuals to act based on small initial commitments that were made. People were more likely to be willing to comply when they had made a prior commitment signaling their support of an initiative. Cialdini’s examples clearly illustrated the power of “voluntary active and public commitments” to reinforce the behavior of consistency. Cialdini’s examples about the cabbage patch kids was intriguing because it really made me think about the power of consistency and commitment as a character trait that individuals actively try to maintain.

Major Weakness: Cialdini explains that the only defense of consistency is awareness. Cialdini says that there are three signals that can help an individual recognize bad choices: stomach signs, heart-of-heart signs and special vulnerabilities. Cialdini defines “special vulnerabilities” as age and strong cultural and personal factors. It is my opinion that although I can understand that the principle of consistency is apparent in some instances,  Cialdini needs to do more research that is not based primarily in the United States to prove whether or not compliance is a principle that holds up universally. Factors like age and cultural impact effect consistency and commitment and I think Cialdini does not provide examples that refute his claims and therefore add to its credibility.

Underlying Assumption: Individuals feel personal and interpersonal pressures to remain consistent with their commitments. People value the importance being consistent has on their self-image.

Provocative Questions: (1) Cialdini talks about how people are more likely to deliver on a commitment if they agree in writing–How does this concept apply to social media and online forms? Will individuals experience the commitment and consistency principle if they simply liked a page or commented on a post related to a non-profit campaign? (2) Does Cialdini’s principle of commitment and consistency hold up if other factors of influence are involved? For example, what if some of Cialdini’s other principles of influence were contributing factors in a situation…how would a persons desire to remain consistent be effected if the principle of social proof, authority or scarcity were also involved? (3) How will the overwhelming amount of  online commitments effect the long term influence of this principle? With every blog, site and social network asking for personal information or visitor commitment…will people hold as much value to the commitment and consistency principle in the future?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.