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Ben Franklin Effect: Ask someone for a favor to make them like you - Business Insider
"No one likes to feel like a mooch.

Which is why asking someone to do you a favor— proofread your résumé, walk your dog, loan you $20 because you forgot this was a cash-only restaurant — can be so stressful.

But if you're stressing because you feel like the person helping you out will find you annoying and like you less, don't. There's a psychological phenomenon commonly known as the "Ben Franklin Effect" that explains why people wind up liking you more when they do you a favor.

David McRaney, author of the book "You Are Not So Smart," explains how the phenomenon got its name on YouAreNotSoSmart.com. Supposedly, Benjamin Franklin had a hater — someone he considered a "gentleman of fortune and education" who would probably become influential in government.

In order to recruit the hater to his side, Franklin decided to ask the man if he could borrow one of the books from his library. The man was flattered and lent it; Franklin returned it one week later with a thank-you note.

The next time they saw each other, the man was exceedingly friendly to Franklin and Franklin said they stayed friends until the man died.

When psychologists tested the Ben Franklin effect in 1969, they found the effect really did hold water. For the small study, volunteers participated in a study in which they could win money.

One-third of the volunteers were then approached by a secretary who said that the psychology department had paid for the study and funds were running out, and asked the volunteer to return the payment. One-third were approached by the experimenter and told that he himself had paid for the study and funds were running out, and asked the volunteer to return the payment. The final third were allowed to keep their money.

Results showed that volunteers liked the experimenter most when they'd done him the favor of returning his money, and least when they'd gotten to keep their money.

In other words, the researchers concluded, doing someone a favor makes us like that person more. The researchers suspected that the Ben Franklin effect works because of "cognitive dissonance": We find it difficult to reconcile the fact that we did someone a favor and we hate them, so we assume that we like them.

More recently, another psychologist conducted a similar, small study on the Ben Franklin effect in the United States and Japan.

Participants in both countries ended up liking another person who was presumably working on the same task more when he asked for help completing a project than when he didn't. Interestingly, however, they didn't like that person more when the experimenter asked them to help that person.

The psychologist behind this study, Yu Niiya of Hosei University in Tokyo, therefore suggests that the Ben Franklin effect isn't a result of cognitive dissonance. Instead, she says it happens because the person being asked for help can sense that the person asking for help wants to get chummy with them and in turn reciprocates the liking.

Regardless of the specific mechanism behind the Ben Franklin Effect, the bottom line is that you shouldn't freak out every time you ask someone to lend a hand. In fact, you can deploy your requests for help strategically, a la Franklin, to win over detractors."
psychology  2016  favors  vulnerability  relationships 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 16: Fission-Fusion Society
"FEARLESS ASYMMETRY: Earlier this week, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Paul Graham wrote a short piece on about how successful people aren't mean, which—well, that’s surely a question of perspective. My daily commute to work takes me through a four-way stop in the affluent Boston suburb of Wellesley, so this is probably my favourite piece of research contradicting Graham's assertion. He also talked about how famous thinkers weren't ruthless, which I find an especially interesting example. Historically, one of the best things about academia, when it works well, is that it allows people to be intrinsically motivated [vid]: it provides them with sufficient income, security, and autonomy, as well as meaningful work—basically, it’s an environment where there is relatively little incentive to be mean. But it’s also worth noting that the idea of what constitutes ‘mean’ has changed appreciably over time, particularly in terms of how you treat people who are not like you: I recently re-read parts of Richard Feynman’s autobiography and some of his behaviour towards women, largely unremarkable at the time, is appalling by current standards.

But Graham and I do agree on the disutility of competition, which I cordially despise. I hate how it’s considered to be a motivating force, especially in education. I once asked ten STEM educators, from four continents, if they were motivated by competition themselves. Only two people said they were, both men. It’s possible that women are socialized to dislike competition, but it’s probably more an awareness of implicit bias, that most competitions they were likely to participate in were effectively rigged.

Apart from being an ineffective motivator for all but a few, my significant issue with competition is that it’s inefficient. By definition, in a competition, you are doing the same thing as other people. An enormous amount of effort is poured into leveling that playing field to absolutely ensure that everyone is doing the same thing. My issue with competitive spectator sports isn't that it’s pointless (it’s play; play is, by definition, pointless). It’s that it normalizes the idea that this ‘doing the same thing, only better’, should be valorized. By contrast, art is not fungible or directly comparable. This is why “It’s an honour to be nominated” is a cliché—being recognized for one’s work is lovely, but the concept of ‘winning’ at art is bolted on. Every comparison between works of art (painting, novels, and so on) is an apples-to-oranges comparison, not a level playing field. In casual conversation at a conference, a faculty member at another institution described himself to me as 'competitive', and I told him that I wasn't—that I was more interested in using the resources available to me to do new things, rather than doing the same thing as everyone else, only better (it's why I joined the faculty of a new college, where this is explicitly part of its mission). But that means I mostly do things that I am uniquely positioned or qualified to do, and—aside from that being a much more efficient use of my personal resources—it turns out that if you’re creating new playing fields, you are in a good position to convince other people (like funding agencies) that you know how to play on them. While Graham highlights how successful people like to create entirely new domains (hello, Apple), the impetus for doing so, at least in business, is usually to monopolize them (why hello again, Apple) rather than to open them up for other people to use. If your goal is to protect that new turf, having sharp elbows and sharper lawyers is certainly an advantage. By contrast, thinkers are often considered successful when they are influential—that is, precisely because they open up new spaces for others to explore.

Finally, I dislike competition because life is too short for zero-sum games. I've been thinking recently about the often-asymmetric nature of asking for favours. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I got my driver's license and a car, which means I’m aware of the frequently quite significant difference in cost (in time more than money, but often both) between getting a ride somewhere and not. Offering someone a ride is often a positive-sum exchange: the cost to me of driving them is far less than the cost to them of making their own way. But it’s more than that: asking for and granting favours, even positive-sum favours, is an act of trust, and it helps to cement social bonds, in part because it’s not a one-to-one exchange of goods. Graham writes that, "For most of history, success meant control of scarce resources...That is changing." as if it were a natural progression with time, like stars leaving the main sequence. But to the extent that resources are non-scarce, and that positive-sum games are possible (and these characteristics are by no means uniformly distributed, even within the United States), it's a result of people--'successful' and otherwise--choosing to create a society where that's the case. The ability to be successful without being mean follows directly from this."
debchachra  2014  competition  paulgraham  motivation  economics  society  trust  winning  success  behavior  money  wealth  stem  gender  autonomy  income  security  academia  favors 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Relevant History: On neocons
"Prof. Katznelson described a lunch he had with Irving Kristol back either during the first Bush administration. The talk turned to William Kristol, then Dan Quayle's chief of staff, and how he got his start in politics. Irving recalled how he talked to his friend Harvey Mansfield at Harvard, who secured William a place there as both an undergrad and graduate student; how he talked to Pat Moynihan, then Nixon's domestic policy adviser, and got William an internship at The White House; how he talked to friends at the RNC and secured a job for William after he got his Harvard Ph.D.; and how he arranged with still more friends for William to teach at UPenn and the Kennedy School of Government. With that, Prof. Katznelson recalled, he then asked Irving what he thought of affirmative action. "I oppose it", Irving replied. "It subverts meritocracy.""
billkristol  neocons  meritocracy  affirmitiveaction  favors  politics  economics  elite  rulingclass 
july 2009 by robertogreco

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