A few weeks ago, my older sister and I were working out times for her to come visit me at university. I am currently in my third year and am getting worried that she is going to run out of time to come visit. After going back and forth with when we were both available and not finding a date that worked, the conversation changed and the below exchange occurred:
“I know your schedule is packed but we are trying to plan this in advance, I have been there for three years but you still have not come.”
“I have just been really busy! I will come at some point”
“I am in my last year of school and you are moving away. Please come as soon as possible. When you were in university I visited you even though you were a four hour plane ride away. I am just a quick drive!”
“You’re right, I will find the time.”
In the above exchange, I utilized one of Cialdidni’s (2007) six weapons of influence, reciprocity. This rule states that we should to repay, in kind what another person has provided us.
Regan (1971) furthered research on the feeling of indebtedness after receiving a gift. In this study, participants showed up to a study with the intention of evaluating paintings and were placed in the room with a confederate. The confederate left experiment room and came back with two Cokes and gave one to the participant. At the end of the experiment, the confederate then asked the participant to purchase raffle tickets. The participants that were given the Coke purchased twice as many raffle tickets than those participants who did not receive the Coke, as shown in the graph below.
Although there are slight differences between the conversation I had with my sister and the Regan study, the principle of reciprocity is still present. The fact that I had visited her when she was in university ended up being the best argument for her coming to visit me.
Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion. New York: Collins.
Regan, D. T. (1971). Effects of a favor and liking on compliance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 7(6), 627-639. doi:10.1016/0022-1031(71)90025-4