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The Benjamin Franklin Effect: Ask Someone a Favour And They Will Like You More

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In this article I want to share a cool psychological trick that makes people like you more… when you ask them a favour. How does that makes sense?

The effect was named after Benjamin Franklin, who famously observed that when someone has done someone a favour, that person is more likely to do them another favour then if they had received a favour from that person. Mind boggling?

Well let me explain. When you do someone a favour, your mind subconsciously justifies your action as because you liked them. When someone does you a favour, they will likely rationalize it as because you are worth doing the favour for. See?

Research

In 1969, John Jecker and David Landy did an experiment to prove this theory. They first told students in an intellectual contest that they could win a significant amount of money. They were then split into three groups, with each group having different scenarios happening to them.

Group A were approached by Jecker and asked to return the money they won as he had been running short on money and it was coming from his own pocket.

Group B were approached by a secretary and asked to return the money as the psychology department was running low on funds.

Group C weren’t approached.

Afterwards they were all surveyed about how they felt. The result was that Group B students rated the secretary lower then group C (Showing impersonal requests for a favour decreases liking). Group A on the other hand rated the researcher higher than group C (Showing personal requests for a favour increases liking).

Cognitive Dissonance

This effect have been cited as a example of cognitive dissonance. In psychology, cognitive dissonance simply means to hold two different beliefs at the same time. The conflict in our beliefs create an uncomfortable feeling and we try to feel less uncomfortable by dissipating one belief or changing the situation.

In the case of the Benjamin Franklin effect, when we have a negative attitude towards someone and  they ask us to do them a favour, a belief subconsciously forms that we must like this person. We suddenly begin to feel favourable towards them.

Personal Explanation From Benjamin Franklin 

Here’s a quote from Franklin that puts it very nicely:

“He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.” – Benjamin Franklin

And here is his personal explanation of his observation of this effect:

Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return’d it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.

I hope you learned something new and hopefully this aids your path to self-actualization! If you know of any more of these cool psychological effects please share!

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