Many girls enjoy going for foundation tests and a popular place for this is Debenhams. Upon entering you are blinded by a multitude of brightly-lit counters promising you can look like the flawless women advertising their products. This social modelling increases the likelihood of purchase. Bandura and Menlove (1968) highlighted that social modelling could even extinguish phobias, simply by watching others. You must then decide upon the brand and once you go over, you have committed yourself. Following committing we reaffirm our reasoning by committing more strongly. Knox and Inkster (1968) showed that once punters at a racecourse had placed a bet, they had more faith in it.
Technically, you could get a complete make-over by a beauty professional for free. But after swooning over our new beauty, they suggest looking this fabulous everyday. Who wouldn’t want to? But it comes at a hefty price and so the negotiation begins.
The sales assistant will argue that looking this amazing is quick and simple if we just use all the products they did. In part, this statement affects us more because they are an authority on the subject. Milgram (1963) showed the extent to which authority influences us, and buying some make-up seems harmless. However, we only really want the £23 foundation whereas all of the items would cost £96. This doesn’t seem the best deal so we stick to saying we only want the foundation. But then we’re told that in fact today we could get it all for £60. The price contrast and apparent concession enhances our feelings on indebtment to repay the beauty professional for their time. Benton, Kelley and Liebling (1972) found that if a concession is made, we are happy with even an unfair deal. Their constant flattery and this concession enhances our liking for them too. Simple flattery can increase compliance by 10% (Pratkanis and Abbott, 2004). Yet, we may still be reluctant to buy things we don’t want and won’t use.
And then they remember that this deal end today! This scarcity principle enhances liking of the product, pressuring us to buy it while we have the choice. Worchel, Lee and Adewole (1975) found cookies were rated as more attractive if only a few were left. Even with all of these social mechanisms at play, we may still be reluctant to buy it as really we do only want the £23 foundation. Thus the sales assistant goes for the final offer, that for us, today they’ll do it for £49.99. Now, comparative to the starting price of £96, it has almost halved in price and it is apparent the sales assistant is making concessions for us. And so we succumb to their negotiation and buy the set.
We leave the shop feeling extremely pleased with our purchase when we have actually been victims to a number of weapons of social influence. With this realisation, the deal is not as amazing as we thought.
Bandura, A., & Menlove, F. L. (1968). Factors determining vicarious extinction of avoidance behaviour through symbolic modelling. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8, 99-108.
Benton, A. A., Kelley, H. H., & Liebling, B. (1972). Effects of extremity of offers and concession rate on the outcomes of bargaining. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 73-83.
Knox, R. E., & Inkster, J.A. (1968). Postdecision dissonance at post time. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8, 319-323.
Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 371-378.
Pratkanis, A. R. The science of social influence: advances and future progress. In A. R. Pratkanis (Ed.), social influence analysis: an index of tactics (pp. 17 - 82). Hove: Psychology Press.
Worchel, S., Lee, J., & Adewole, A. (1975). Effects of supply and demand on rating of object value. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 906-914.
Sanaa Kadir (Blog 5)