Public Opinion Through New Media

Brenna’s Twesume

 –  Marketing Manager: World traveler, adaptable, personable. View portfolio:   

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Nikki’s Twesume

3 years in IT  & Comm, B2B & B2C experience. Looking for management position in  area.  

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Laura Smith twesume

Enthusiastic #marketing professional w/ 3 year’s experience in #digital marketing & #advertising. @elonuniversity alum

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Communications Specialist, #socialmedia & #marketing background, specialise in #content #engagement. @Redhat

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“Venezuelan Spring” – Daron, Morgan, Russell

What are the issues? Why are people protesting, and what are they protesting about?

The initial demand of the protest was for increased securityAccording to BBC, protests began when a female student claimed someone attempted to rape her. Now, protesters are demanded release of those detained in previous protests, and economic changes to curb high inflationIn February 2014, three people were shot at a “peaceful” protest. The majority of protesters are students and middle class. The issues have manifested themselves since the passing of former President Hugo Chávez in 2013.

In addition to security and inflation, protesters are also upset with a scarcity of the ability to purchase basic food items. Even on Easter Sunday, protesters attempted to recreate Jesus’s walk to the crucifixion.

Are they affecting the entire country?

The working class is not as upset about the issues, according to BBC. There is reportedly a lot of indifference, so the protests don’t seem to be gaining as much momentum as possible. The Venezuelan government has been blaming the United States government for many of the protests, even detaining an American citizen in one example. Since Venezuela is already in economic decline, the country cannot sustain its economy if it does not export oil to the United States, so this relationship is extremely critical to the future of Venezuela.

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The issue: Prior commitments and social interaction affect have a strong influence on an how an individual makes a choice.

Major strength: Cialdini pulls for a strong variety of examples in this writing per normal. There is a nice balance between stories and exact scientific studies. The “knowing what I know now” questioned continued throughout the chapter without getting repetitive.

Major weakness:  I felt a big weakness was when Cialdini argued that knowing the physical signs were helpful. He pointed out that we generally don’t feel good when committing to something but due it anyway. Clearly knowing these signs physically does not provide a huge amount of help. I also wonder if some observed or test subjects went through with commitments with plans to change their minds later. If an individual feels obligated to a commitment, they could just be making agreements they have no intention to keep.

Underlying assumption: Individuals will rely on past commitments as well as internal and social pressure to make decisions− event if they aren’t for the best.

Provocative questions:

Do other cultures have the same type of commitment issues? Cialdini briefly mentions one test but how might this be further tested?

How does trust affect an individuals decisions when it comes to trust?

Does working harder for something (i.e. joining Greek life or becoming a citizen) always give it more value and increase an individuals loyalty to that commitment?

How would Cialdini relate the idea of commitment to a political party?

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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?

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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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Liking Principle

The Issue:  The issue of “liking” – you are more likely to do something if you “like” the person it is associated with. The issue of how much you like someone can be determined by similarities, physical appearance, and familiarity.

Major Strength:  Once again, Cialdini gives great examples of the ‘liking’ principle.  His example of the Tupperware Party really resonated with me, because I too, have felt the need to purchase items I do not need, simply because a friend is affiliated with them.

Major Weakness: I think that the ‘luncheon technique’ that Cialdini discussed could have been left out of the chapter.  While I understand the idea of the asocial principle, and believe that it is effective at times, I don’t believe that the luncheon technique is applicable in the majority of settings anymore.

Underlying assumption:  Individuals are more likely to support something if there is a person they like associated with it.  This influence impacts political and personal decisions.

Provocative Questions:

– How does this principle influence the public when used in conjunction with other principles, such as social proof?

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Commitment and Consistency

The Issue: The social pressures individuals feel to carry through/ carry out commitments for the sake of the accolade of being a consistent human being.

Major Strengths: As always Cialdini does a great job of showing us how big pictures theories are relevant in our everyday encounters. Charities social tactics seem to be very telling of human behaviour and it was interesting to me that once we are asked if we are well from a charity representative that because of our emotional well being we are usually guilted and then committed into helping someone else. A major strength of Cialdinis is noting the emphasis and importance we today put on the idea of someone being ‘consistent’. This term is brought up in many job reviews and is used a huge plus when describing someones work ethic, we place an extreme pressure on someone being consistent that people tend to go along with commitments they may not want to purely so they can be see as someone who is consistent.

Major Weakness: I felt that the examples of the hazing within colleges and the tribe examples did not necessarily fit with the ideas of the chapter. I personally think that the psychology behind hazing can go much deeper and it can be studied in it’s own right, I understand that the person who is enduring all of these tasks are honouring a commitment to accept these punishments and become a part of the fraternity, however I feel that, that it a different kind of commitment and consistency in comparison to the other examples.

Underlying Assumption: Everyone feels a sense of commitment on a regular basis, ones which we may not want to take a part in. However many people have a desire to be seen as a consistent person, Cialdini makes confusing points of just needing to find the balance between what is appropriate for you.

Provocative Questions:

Why is hazing considered a commitment? I understand that I am from a country where it does not exist, however I am completely aware of what goes on behind those doors and all of the situations people endure to prove themselves. However psychologically I would like to understand better why these individuals agree to that commitment, is it to feel part of a ‘brotherhood’ forever more? (A brotherhood that tortures you, no doubt!).

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