Liking Principle

The Issue: Cialdini talks about the “liking” principle and how it relates to our decisions and propensity to be manipulated to believe one way or another. He also discusses the relationship between this principle and how/why individuals react in certain situations – sports, desegregation, etc.

Major Strength: Per usual, Cialdini gives various examples of how the “liking” principle comes into play and how it can impact everyday decisions. Though many of the sources referenced in the chapter are from quite a while back, the evaluations and conclusions drawn are in many ways timeless. Being a sports guy, the section discussing fandom – though obvious in nature – really made me think about my own relationship with teams I cheer for outside of my work setting. It also led me to think about my own observations from my work position and how there is such a fine line between anger and joy when it comes to sports. Certainly a love/hate relationship. Even I catch flack as a sports reporter when I report something negative – not much different than that of the experience of the weatherman in the chapter. The Isaac Asimov quote found in the chapter – “All things being equal, you root for your own sex, your own culture, your own locality … and what you want to love is that you are better than the other person. Whomever you root for represents you; and when he [or she] wins, you win” – seems to be applied throughout the chapter in that our sense of “liking” someone or something induces us to make decisions, sometimes not in our best interests, but essentially plays to the idea of doing good, or what others perceive to be the right thing. We’ve been convinced it’s right.

Major Weakness: I feel like the “endless chain” idea shows some weaknesses in the principle and discussion. At least I believe it to be true for this day and age. While the tactic does hold some merit – playing on someone by saying friend X sent me to talk to you – my unscientific belief is that people today would be less likely to give a salesman a name of a friend in the first place. In an oxymoron kind of way, people seem less likely to be open with someone else’s privacy in a day that individuals are more likely to lessen the walls of privacy for themselves. That said, I feel like another weakness is the limited acknowledgment that people can detect tactics better than given credit.

Underlying Assumption: I feel like the theme throughout the book and my equerries in this section is based on the assumption that people are instinctively susceptible to, for lack of a better word, brainwashing and an inability to recognize tactics to produce favorable results. I like to think with this principle in particular – due to the simplistic and obvious nature – that people are more aware of what is happening than not.

Provocative Questions: In the case of the car salesman and recognizing that you might have begun “liking” this person a little too quickly, how often can the tables be turned with the tactics? Maybe that’s not necessarily an ethical thought process, but rather than simply blocking out the “liking” approach and focusing on the goal at hand you change the game. Maybe the consumer is the one that can ultimately dupe the salesman.

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