Robert B. Cialdini


Chapter 3 – Commitment and Consistency



I.                    Sample Story

a.      People more confident in bets moments after placing them


II.                 Human need for commitment/consistency

a.      “Once we make a choice or take a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment.”

b.      Make yourself believe in choice you just made

c.      Da Vinci – “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”

d.      Need to be (or at least look) consistent

                                                               i.      Don’t want to look fickle

                                                             ii.      Keep word


III.               Examples

a.      Beach experiment with thief

                                                               i.      Independent variable – steal radio don’t say anything – 25%

                                                             ii.      Independent variable – say “watch my things first” – 95%

b.      If actions don’t match words

                                                               i.      Confused

                                                             ii.      Two-faced

                                                            iii.      Mentally ill

c.      Judgmental Heuristic

                                                               i.      Once decision made, don’t have to think any longer about issue

                                                             ii.      Behavior will be self-modified to match earlier choice

d.      New Heights Meditation

                                                               i.      Unique Brand of Meditation

                                                             ii.      Goes with scientists and one scientist jumps up and says how ludicrous

                                                            iii.      Message contradictory, but still believed

1.      Makes fall asleep/Makes stay awake

                                                           iv.      What does audience do?

                                                             v.      At end, huge crowds swarm to sign up

                                                           vi.      Quote p. 58

e.      Toy Shopping Season – Problem – everyone buys Nov., Dec.  – Feb. > May very slow

                                                               i.      Before Christmas – big ads for cool toys

1.      Cabbage Patch, Tickle Me Elmo, Furby, Beanie Babies, Nintendo, etc

                                                             ii.      Stores understock

                                                            iii.      Get promise from parent

                                                           iv.      Parent enters store, no original toy, buy something else

                                                             v.      Then, months later toy becomes available

                                                           vi.      Parent enters store to buy, has to he promised – must look consistent

                                                          vii.      Even knowing this is irrelevant – what are you going to do – not buy present/break promise?

                                                        viii.      Tales I win, Heads you lose

f.        Make stand, have to be stubborn, regardless – liars – broken vase

                                                               i.      Make people commit, and you have them

1.      Survey – if asked, what would you say to helping Cancer Society

2.      Called back a few days later – Will you help?

3.      Already committed to being helper – 700% increase in volunteers

                                                             ii.      Getting voters to vote – ask “Will you vote on election day?”

1.      You’re not telling person, you’re making them tell themselves

                                                            iii.      Chinese Communists prison camps in Korea

1.      Very successful propaganda campaign

2.      Say how wonderful communism is/rat out escapees

3.      Start with harmless admissions “US isn’t perfect.” “Communism has no unemployment”

4.      Then expand to lists, to essays, then read essays aloud to people, use name in broadcast

5.      Get little commitment, you have them

                                                           iv.      How can salesmen use this?

1.      Get you to buy something small first

2.      “Foot in the door”

3.      Signed name – no profit – no longer a prospect – becomes a customer

                                                             v.      Put huge sign in front of house “Drive Carefully”

1.      17 % said yes

2.      Independent variable – display 3 inch square in car “Be a Safe Driver” – 76% said yes

3.      People started to think of themselves differently

a.       I care about driving

b.      Have to stay consistent

IV.              Get it in writing

a.      People believe what other’s wrote

b.      You start to believe what you wrote

c.      Bart Simpson writing lines on board/Communists have you copy a pro-Communist statement and then post it

                                                               i.      Essay contest – for cigarettes

                                                             ii.      Better chance of winning if essay was pro-Communist – not always, but better chance

                                                            iii.      Communists would get pro-stance in writing

d.      Combatting “Cooling off” laws

                                                               i.      Customer can cancel purchase if they feel it was too high pressure

                                                             ii.      Here’s solution – have customer fill out sales agreement

1.      Why would he disagree with own agreement?

2.      He signed his name didn’t he?

V.                 Important how you’re perceived in public

a.      Don’t want to look fickle, unstable

b.      Line experiment

                                                               i.      Write down estimate

                                                             ii.      Write down and erase

                                                            iii.      Keep in head

c.      Hung juries – happens more frequently if you raise hands vs. secret ballot

                                                               i.      Even if you change your mind, you don’t want to look fickle


VI.              Goal setting

a.      Best weight loss, quit smoking technique – write down goal and pass to friend, most important people in your life

b.      Story smoking p. 73

c.      Can be for the positive.  Use it against yourself.  Writing a book.  Letting down parents, students, principal, self.


VII.            Effort – if we’ve already made an effort, feel we must follow through

a.      Buying tickets on the phone

                                                               i.      Takes forever to pick up, call back, call back

                                                             ii.      Then you find out price – buy anyway – you committed yourself


VIII.         Fraternity hazing – why it doesn’t go away

a.      “persons who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with a minimum of effort”

b.      Easy vs. Difficult test

c.      Difficulty of military boot camp – makes you feel more a part of something

d.      Crew/Fraternity example


IX.              Getting people to commit

a.      What if I could get this for you for $400 less, would you be interested

                                                               i.      Well sure, once you’re in the door, they have you

                                                             ii.      Easier to say no in the beginning than in the end

b.      Sign up

                                                               i.      Show up at 7:00 to help out with washing cars – 24%

                                                             ii.      Are you willing to help with experiment on intelligence, say 7:00 time later – 100% said yes, 95% showed up

c.      Publish peoples names as being “Community Oriented”

                                                               i.      Then ask them to use less gas

                                                             ii.      Try to keep committed to new view of self

                                                            iii.      Once take away incentive, internal still there

d.      Have them answer yes questions, get committed then nail them

                                                               i.      Buying Clubamerica tickets