Commitment And Consistency

Posted by Darrell Milam on

Commitment And Consistency


What's up, Stonedvet Army?

I hope that your week has been well. 

This week, I'm discussing chapter three of Dr. Robert Cialdini's book  Influence The Psychology of Persuasion. Chapter three discusses commitment and consistency.

For a long time, psychologists have known about the rule of commitment and consistency. You see, It is not just humans that are affected by the rule of commitment and consistency, but most all creatures. This rule has been proven in many animal species. Still, now we're only going to focus on how we as humans are affected by it. 

Suppose you would like to know more about Commitment and Consistency, as well as five other extremely powerful psychological rules. In that case, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Dr. Robert Cialdini's book Influence The Psychology of Persuasion; here is my Amazon link; it's under $7 at the time of writing.

The rule of Commitment and Consistency says that once we have chosen or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment.

What does this mean?

Let me share a few examples that Dr. Robert Cialdini talks about in chapter 3 of his book Influence The Psychology of Persuasion

WARNING: This May Piss You Off

But like my mentor, David Snyder, says, "Anything outside of your awareness is outside of your control." He goes on to say, "However, just because it is outside of your awareness does not mean it's not controlling you."

Example 1:
   Once at a recruiting meeting for a cult-type Transcendental Meditation group. After the speakers had told people how they could teach them the secrets to obtaining special abilities, a well-educated university professor spoke up about the holes and contradictions in the logic. 
   The logic was so sound that even the presenters were second-guessing their information. But the CRAZY part was the audience member to the back to submit their applications. 
   After the event, the professor spoke with several attendees who had signed up for the program. It turns out that they had understood his logical argument about the fallacies from the group. However, what they said was astounding. When asked, one man said, "Well, I wasn't going to put down any money tonight because I'm quite broke right now; I was going to wait until the next meeting. But when your buddy started talking, I knew I'd better give them my money now, or I'd go home and start thinking about what he said and never sign up."
   Most of the people attending were looking for answers. The logic was enough to trigger the emotional response of people who had thought they might have found a solution to their struggles that they very much wanted to believe in. 
   Now someone comes in and threatens their hopes and dreams with logic. Like a steel trap, the mind closes, and now something must happen before the reason takes a toll and leaves them without hope again. It doesn't matter where the hope comes from, even if it's foolish. Once the commitment is made, consistency takes over, and beliefs are reinforced. 

Read the full story in Dr. Cialdini's book Influence The Psychology of Persuasion.

Example 2:
   Psychologists stage thefts on a New York beach to see if strangers would help stop the crime. The experiment went like this. One researcher would put a blanket and radio down close to a randomly chosen stranger. After a few minutes of listing to music, the researcher would get up and take a stroll down the beach, leaving behind the radio and blanket. After a few minutes, another researcher would come to grab the radio and attempt to 'steal' it with the strangers watching.
   When tested under these circumstances 20 times, only four people attempted to stop the crime.
   However, when the psychologists changed just ONE variable, their results were an astonishing 19 out of 20 strangers would attempt to stop the would-be thief. The ONE change was simply asking the strangers to "Please watch my things."
   The commitment was enough to alter the results from 1 out of 5 to 95% of strangers willing to potentially put themself in danger to stop a would-be burglar from taking a radio from someone they had never met.

Read more in Dr. Cialdini's book Influence The Psychology of Persuasion

Example 3:
   Large toy companies know the power of commitment and consistency very well. The last example I will share from Influence The Psychology of Persuasion tells how large toy manufacturers use seasonal buying patterns to pad their off-peak sales.
   Toy companies make tons of profit in peak season but needed to figure out how to increase sales after their peak sales season was over. After failing to achieve the desired results from dropping prices or increasing advertising, the toy companies figured out how to use commitment and consistency against parents. The best part of all is they do not need to reduce prices or increase ad spending.
   Knowing that millions of children who see the seasonal toy advertisements on TV will want the hot toys for a holiday, and knowing that the parents will promise the kid the toy to make them drop it, the toy manufacturers intentionally undersupply retail stores to cause shortages. This causes the parents to purchase alternative gifts when they can't get the primary trendy toy of the season.
   After the holidays, the toy manufacturers will resume the commercial advertisements rekindling the desire of the children. Due to the rule of commitment and consistency, the otherwise reluctant parents are now purchasing the toys, and manufacturers are filling their sales quota in the off-season.

Read all about it in Dr. Cialdini's book Influence The Psychology of Persuasion.

Comment below.

What examples of Commitment and Consistency do you see happening around you?

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