3rd Principle of influence – Commitment and Consistency
People tend to stick to their word. According to Cialdini, we are more likely to follow through with something if we have verbally or written agreed to it. We want to be consistent with our commitments and align them with our attitudes, values and actions.
In 1987, Anthony Greenwald, a social scientist, asked potential voters on the eve of the election if they would vote and why. All of them said yes. The next day, 86.7% of those who were asked showed up at the polls, compared to 61.5% of those who were not asked. Publicly committing to vote increased the likelihood of actually voting.
This principle can be used by marketers to influence customers or co-workers.
- Ask your team members to support your next initiative and explain why.
- Get people to say yes to something and they will be more committed to it. For example, instead of saying “Please call if you have to cancel”, ask “Will you please call if you have to cancel?” This will increase their response rates.
However, be aware that age matters.
As we get older, we value consistency more and find it harder to change. A 2005 study by Stephanie Brown et al., published in the Journal of Research in Personality, confirmed that older people become “set in their ways”.
To persuade them, you need to praise their past decisions and show how they are consistent with the new ones. For instance, you can say “You made a good choice based on the information you had at the time. Now you have new information that shows how this product or service is aligned with your values.”