This week’s blog has been inspired by something that happens to me just last night. I was sitting at home at about 7pm and the doorbell went and there was a lady asking me to sign a petition against the proposed closure of the local library. I was happy to sign it and I’m sure she’ll use the 1000s of signatures that she gets in the normal way and present them to the council to prove how many people support keeping the library open. However, this lady’s visit reminded me of research that suggests there is a lot more going on psychologically when we ask someone to sign a petition or make a public declaration in this way.
Robert Cialdini, a psychologist whom I cite a lot on these Meetology® Minutes, talks about us being consistent with our commitments and he’s one of many psychologists who have researched and proved this phenomenon.
What this area of research suggests is that if we make a public commitment to a certain view point or behaviour we prime ourselves psychologically to be more likely to act in accordance with that commitment. For example if you sign a form against littering psychology suggests the very act of signing the petition means that you’ll more likely not to litter because you literally put your name to the belief and will behave accordingly.
So my suggestion this week is that if you’re trying to influence and persuade someone when you’re interacting with them asking them to make a public commitment to a certain behaviour can be really powerful – whether it is in the form of writing or indeed verbally (did you know for example that one of the most effective ways of losing weight could be to go onto Facebook and tell everyone that you’re going to lose weight). I hope you can use this week’s insights both in your private as well as professional life – remember getting people to make public commitments to certain actions is psychologically proven to be really powerful,
I’ll be back in 7 days with some more Meetology® – the fascinating psychology powering exceptional people skills.
The Meetology® Lab
Robert Cialdidi’s book Influence contains a chapter with some great examples of people being consistent with their commitments.
Kettle, K., and Häubl, G. (2011) “The Signature Effect: How Signing One’s Name Influences Consumption-Related Behavior” Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 38, No. 3 (October 2011), pp. 474-489.