Robert B. Cialdini

If we are talking to a beautiful woman at a cocktail party and are then joined by an unattractive one, the second woman will strike us as less attractive than she actually is.

He said he liked to watch his prospects’ “eyes light up” when he showed the place he really wanted to sell them after they had seen the run-down houses. “The house I got them spotted for looks really great after they’ve first looked at a couple of dumps.”

Think of the implications. People we might ordinarily dislike—unsavory or unwelcome sales operators, disagreeable acquaintances, representatives of strange or unpopular organizations—can greatly increase the chance that we will do what they wish merely by providing us with a small favor prior to their requests.

The unsuspecting passerby who suddenly finds a flower pressed into his hands or pinned to his jacket is under no circumstances allowed to give it back, even if he asserts that he does not want it. “No, it is our gift to you,” says the solicitor, refusing to accept it. Only after the Krishna member has thus brought the force of the reciprocation rule to bear on the situation is the target asked to provide a contribution to the Society.

Thus, it is now common airport practice to restrict the Krishnas’ soliciting activity to certain areas of the airport and to announce through signs and the public address system that the Krishnas are soliciting there. It is a testament to the societal value of reciprocation that we have chosen to fight the Krishnas mostly by seeking to avoid rather than to withstand the force of their gift giving. The reciprocity rule that empowers their tactic is too strong—and socially beneficial—for us to want to violate it.

It is interesting that this same process may account for the problems Jimmy Carter had in getting his programs through Congress during his early administration, despite heavy Democratic majorities in both House and Senate. Carter came to the presidency from outside the Capitol Hill establishment. He campaigned on his outside-Washington identity, saying that he was indebted to no one there. Much of his legislative difficulty upon arriving may be traced to the fact that no one there was indebted to him.

During the 1992 presidential primary campaign, actress Sally Kellerman was asked why she was lending her name and efforts to the candidacy of Democratic hopeful Jerry Brown. Her reply: “Twenty years ago, I asked ten friends to help me move. He was the only one who showed up.”

Diane Louie, however, rejected Jones’s command and made her way out of Jonestown and into the jungle. She attributes her willingness to do so to her earlier refusal to accept special favors from him when she was in need. She turned down his offer of special food while she was ill because “I knew once he gave me those privileges, he’d have me. I didn’t want to owe him nothin’.”

Joe had voluntarily left the room and returned with one Coke for himself and one for the subject. There was not a single subject who refused the Coke. It is easy to see why it would have been awkward to turn down Joe’s favor: Joe had already spent his money; a soft drink was an appropriate favor in the situation, especially since Joe had one himself; it would have been considered impolite to reject Joe’s thoughtful action. Nevertheless, receipt of that Coke produced an indebtedness that manifested itself clearly when Joe announced his desire to sell some raffle tickets.

Notice the important asymmetry here—all the genuinely free choices were Joe’s. He chose the form of the initial favor, and he chose the form of the return favor.

About one year ago, I couldn’t start my car. As I was sitting there, a guy in the parking lot came over and eventually jump-started the car. I said thanks, and he said you’re welcome; as he was leaving, I said that if he ever needed a favor to stop by. About a month later, the guy knocked on my door and asked to borrow my car for two hours as his was in the shop. I felt somewhat obligated but uncertain, since the car was pretty new and he looked very young. Later, I found out that he was underage and had no insurance. Anyway, I lent him the car. He totaled it.

The technique is a simple one that we can call the rejection-then-retreat technique. Suppose you want me to agree to a certain request. One way to increase your chances would be first to make a larger request of me, one that I will most likely turn down. Then, after I have refused, you would make the smaller request that you were really interested in all along. Provided that you have structured your requests skillfully, I should view your second request as a concession to me and should feel inclined to respond with a concession of my own, the only one I would have immediately open to me—compliance with your second request.

Be assured that any strategy able to triple the percentage of compliance with a substantial request (from 17 percent to 50 percent in our experiment) will be frequently employed in a variety of natural settings. Labor negotiators, for instance, often use the tactic of beginning with extreme demands that they do not actually expect to win but from which they can retreat in a series of seeming concessions designed to draw real concessions from the opposing side.

If I want you to lend me five dollars, I can make it seem like a smaller request by first asking you to lend me ten dollars.

We have already seen that as long as it is not viewed to be a transparent trick, the concession will likely stimulate a return concession.

Satisfaction. Even though, on the average, they gave the most money to the opponent who used the concessions strategy, the subjects who were the targets of this strategy were the most satisfied with the final arrangement.

It appears that an agreement that has been forged through the concessions of one’s opponent is quite satisfying. With

Invariably declining the requester’s initial offer of a favor or sacrifice works better in theory than in practice. The major problem is that when it is first presented, it is difficult to know whether such an offer is honest or whether it is the initial step in an exploitation attempt.

If you were to find yourself in such a situation with the realization that the primary motive of the inspector’s visit was to sell you a costly alarm system, your most effective next action would be a simple, private maneuver. It would involve the mental act of redefinition. Merely define whatever you have received from the inspector—extinguisher, safety information, hazard inspection—not as gifts, but as sales devices, and you will be free to decline (or accept) his purchase offer without even a tug from the reciprocity rule:

A favor rightly follows a favor—not a piece of sales strategy.

if he subsequently responds to your refusal by proposing that you, at least, give him the names of some friends he might call on, use your mental maneuver on him again. Define his retreat to this smaller request as what (it is hoped after reading this chapter) you recognize it to be—a compliance tactic.

the reciprocity rule asserts that if justice is to be done, exploitation attempts should be exploited.

Obviously, horse-race bettors are not alone in their willingness to believe in the correctness of a difficult choice, once made. Indeed, we all fool ourselves from time to time in order to keep our thoughts and beliefs consistent with what we have already done or decided.

Once we have made up our minds about an issue, stubborn consistency allows us a very appealing luxury: We really don’t have to think hard about the issue anymore. We don’t have to sift through the blizzard of information we encounter every day to identify relevant facts; we don’t have to expend the mental energy to weigh the pros and cons; we don’t have to make any further tough decisions. Instead, all we have to do when confronted with the issue is to turn on our consistency tape, whirr, and we know just what to believe, say, or do. We need only believe, say, or do whatever is consistent with our earlier decision.

as Sir Joshua Reynolds noted, “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.”

Because it is a preprogrammed and mindless method of responding, automatic consistency can supply a safe hiding place from those troubling realizations. Sealed within the fortress walls of rigid consistency, we can be impervious to the sieges of reason.

The spokesman put it best: “Well, I wasn’t going to put down any money tonight because I’m really quite broke right now; I was going to wait until the next meeting. But when your buddy started talking, I knew I’d better give them my money now, or I’d go home and start thinking about what he said and never sign up.”

All at once, things began to make sense. These were people with real problems; and they were somewhat desperately searching for a way to solve those problems. They were seekers who, if our discussion leaders were to be believed, had found a potential solution in TM. Driven by their needs, they very much wanted to believe that TM was their answer.

Now, in the form of my colleague, intrudes the voice of reason, showing the theory underlying their newfound solution to be unsound. Panic! Something must be done at once before logic takes its toll and leaves them without hope again. Quickly, quickly, walls against reason are needed; and it doesn’t matter that the fortress to be erected is a foolish one.

Steven J. Sherman. He simply called a sample of Bloomington, Indiana, residents as part of a survey he was taking and asked them to predict what they would say if asked to spend three hours collecting money for the American Cancer Society. Of course, not wanting to seem uncharitable to the survey taker or to themselves, many of these people said that they would volunteer. The consequence of this sly commitment procedure was a 700 percent increase in volunteers when, a few days later, a representative of the American Cancer Society did call and ask for neighborhood canvassers.

Short of physical brutalization, how could the captors hope to get such men to give military information, turn in fellow prisoners, or publicly denounce their country? The Chinese answer was elementary: Start small and build.

For instance, prisoners were frequently asked to make statements so mildly anti-American or pro-Communist as to seem inconsequential (“The United States is not perfect.” “In a Communist country, unemployment is not a problem.”). But once these minor requests were complied with, the men found themselves pushed to submit to related yet more substantive requests. A man who had just agreed with his Chinese interrogator that the United States is not perfect might then be asked to indicate some of the ways in which he thought this was the case. Once he had so explained himself, he might be asked to make a list of these “problems with America” and to sign his name to it. Later he might be asked to read his list in a discussion group with other prisoners. “After all, it’s what you really believe, isn’t it?” Still later he might be asked to write an essay expanding on his list and discussing these problems in greater detail.

Thus, while “only a few men were able to avoid collaboration altogether,” according to Dr. Schein, “the majority collaborated at one time or another by doing things which seemed to them trivial but which the Chinese were able to turn to their own advantage…. This was particularly effective in eliciting confessions, self-criticism, and information during interrogation.”

Signing the beautification petition changed the view these people had of themselves. They saw themselves as public-spirited citizens who acted on their civic principles. When, two weeks later, they were asked to perform another public service by displaying the DRIVE CAREFULLY sign, they complied in order to be consistent with their newly formed self-images.

What the Freedman and Fraser findings tell us, then, is to be very careful about agreeing to trivial requests.

It scares me enough that I am rarely willing to sign a petition anymore, even for a position I support. Such an action has the potential to influence not only my future behavior but also my self-image in ways I may not want.

Notice that all of the foot-in-the-door experts seem to be excited about the same thing: You can use small commitments to manipulate a person’s self-image; you can use them to turn citizens into “public servants,” prospects into “customers,” prisoners into “collaborators.” And once you’ve got a man’s self-image where you want it, he should comply naturally with a whole range of your requests that are consistent with this view of himself.

Our best evidence of what people truly feel and believe comes less from their words than from their deeds. Observers trying to decide what a man is like look closely at his actions. What the Chinese have discovered is that the man himself uses this same evidence to decide what he is like.

Understanding fully this important principle of self-perception, the Chinese set about arranging the prison-camp experience so that their captives would consistently act in desired ways. Before long, the Chinese knew, these actions would begin to take their toll, causing the men to change their views of themselves to align with what they had done.

So intent were the Chinese on securing a written statement that if a prisoner was not willing to write a desired response freely, he was prevailed upon to copy it.

People have a natural tendency to think that a statement reflects the true attitude of the person who made it. What is surprising is that they continue to think so even when they know that the person did not freely choose to make the statement.

Like the Amway Corporation, then, these organizations have found that something special happens when people personally put their commitments on paper: They live up to what they have written down.

For appearances’ sake, then, the more public a stand, the more reluctant we will be to change it.

Should you ever find yourself as the foreperson of a jury under these conditions, then, you could reduce the risk of a hung jury by choosing a secret rather than public balloting technique.

Additional research showed the same results when coeds were required to endure pain rather than embarrassment to get into a group. The more electric shock a woman received as part of the initiation ceremony, the more she later persuaded herself that her new group and its activities were interesting, intelligent, and desirable.

They wanted the men to own what they had done. No excuses, no ways out were allowed. A man who suffered through an arduous hazing could not be given the chance to believe he did so for charitable purposes. A prisoner who salted his political essay with a few anti-American comments could not be permitted to shrug it off as motivated by a big reward.

the fraternity chapters and Chinese Communists were playing for keeps. It was not enough to wring commitments out of their men; those men had to be made to take inner responsibility for their actions.

Social scientists have determined that we accept inner responsibility for a behavior when we think we have chosen to perform it in the absence of strong outside pressures. A large reward is one such external pressure. It may get us to perform a certain action, but it won’t get us to accept inner responsibility for the act.

The same is true of a strong threat; it may motivate immediate compliance, but it is unlikely to produce long-term commitment.

All this has important implications for rearing children. It suggests that we should never heavily bribe or threaten our children to do the things we want them truly to believe in.

The important thing is to use a reason that will initially produce the desired behavior and will, at the same time, allow a child to take personal responsibility for that behavior. Thus, the less detectable outside pressure such a reason contains, the better.

the effects of the change are lasting. So, once a man has been induced to take action that shifts his self-image to that of, let’s say, a public-spirited citizen, he is likely to be public-spirited in a variety of other circumstances where his compliance may also be desired, and he is likely to continue his public-spirited behavior for as long as his new self-image holds.

After our friend comes to view himself as a public-spirited citizen, he will automatically begin to see things differently. He will convince himself that it is the correct way to be. He will begin to pay attention to facts he hadn’t noticed before about the value of community service. He will make himself available to hear arguments he hadn’t heard before favoring civic action. And he will find such arguments more persuasive than before.

In general, because of the need to be consistent within his system of beliefs, he will assure himself that his choice to take public-spirited action was right.

No matter which variety of lowballing is used, the sequence is the same: An advantage is offered that induces a favorable purchase decision; then, sometime after the decision has been made but before the bargain is sealed, the original purchase advantage is deftly removed. It seems almost incredible that a customer would buy a car under these circumstances.

Stomachs are not especially perceptive or subtle organs.

If Sara has erred in her choice of Tim, how long could she go without clearly recognizing it, without having a massive heart of hearts attack?

The producers of charity telethons devote inordinate amounts of time to the incessant listing of viewers who have already pledged contributions. The message being communicated to the holdouts is clear: “Look at all the people who have decided to give. It must be the correct thing to do.”

Chris explained: “Well, I’m three years old, and Tommy is three years old. And Tommy can swim without a ring, so that means I can too.” I could have kicked myself. Of course, it would be to little Tommy, not to a six-foot-two-inch graduate student, that Chris would look for the most relevant information about what he could or should do.

Professor Phillips’s findings have persuaded me of a distressing tendency for suicide publicity to motivate certain people who are similar to the victim to kill themselves—because they now find the idea of suicide more legitimate.

When these results are combined with the parallel findings in Phillips’s suicide data, it is clear that widely publicized aggression has the nasty tendency to spread to similar victims, no matter whether the aggression is inflicted on the self or on another.

The first response was that of a young woman who calmly approached the now famous vat of strawberry-flavored poison, administered one dose to her baby, one to herself, and then sat down in a field, where she and her child died in convulsions within four minutes. Others followed steadily in turn. Although a handful of Jonestowners escaped rather than comply and a few others are reported to have resisted, the survivors claim that the great majority of the 910 people who died did so in an orderly, willful fashion.

All at once, they found themselves in a place they knew nothing about. South America, and the rain forests of Guyana, especially, were unlike anything they had experienced in San Francisco. The country—both physical and social—into which they were dropped must have seemed dreadfully uncertain. Ah, uncertainty—the right-hand man of the principle of social proof.

therein lies the awful beauty of the Reverend Jim Jones’s relocation strategy. In a country like Guyana, there were no similar others for a Jonestown resident but the people of Jonestown itself.

The uncertainty they surely felt upon first hearing the death command must have caused them to look to those around them for a definition of the appropriate response. It is particularly worth noting that they found two impressive pieces of social evidence, each pointing in the same direction.

Although he was without question a man of rare dynamism, the power he wielded strikes me as coming less from his remarkable personal style than from his understanding of fundamental psychological principles. His real genius as a leader was his realization of the limitations of individual leadership. No leader can hope to persuade, regularly and single-handedly, all the members of the group.

the most influential leaders are those who know how to arrange group conditions to allow the principle of social proof to work maximally in their favor.

It is in this that Jones appears to have been inspired. His masterstroke was the decision to move the People’s Temple community from its roots in urban San Francisco to the remoteness of equatorial South America, where the conditions of uncertainty and exclusive similarity would make the principle of social proof operate for him as perhaps nowhere else. There, a settlement of a thousand people, much too large to be held in persistent sway by the force of one man’s personality, could be changed from a following into a herd.

As slaughterhouse operators have long known, the mentality of a herd makes it easy to manage. Simply get some members moving in the desired direction and the others—responding not so much to the lead animal as to those immediately surrounding them—will peacefully and mechanically go along.

Because the disadvantages of automatic pilots arise principally when incorrect data have been put into the control system, our best defense against these disadvantages is to recognize when the data are in error.

If we can become sensitive to situations where the social-proof automatic pilot is working with inaccurate information, we can disengage the mechanism and grasp the controls when we need

The patrolman’s account provides certain insights into the way we respond to social proof. First, we seem to assume that if a lot of people are doing the same thing, they must know something we don’t.

Especially when we are uncertain, we are willing to place an enormous amount of trust in the collective knowledge of the crowd.

quite frequently the crowd is mistaken because they are not acting on the basis of any superior information but are reacting, themselves, to the principle of social proof.

There is a lesson here: An automatic-pilot device, like social proof, should never be trusted fully; even when no saboteur has fed bad information into the mechanism, it can sometimes go haywire by itself.

In one study, good grooming of applicants in a simulated employment interview accounted for more favorable hiring decisions than did job qualifications—this, even though the interviewers claimed that appearance played a small role in their choices.

good-looking people enjoy an enormous social advantage in our culture. They are better liked, more persuasive, more frequently helped, and seen as possessing better personality traits and intellectual capacities.

As trivial as these similarities may seem, they appear to work. One researcher who examined the sales records of insurance companies found that customers were more likely to buy insurance when the salesperson was like them in such areas as age, religion, politics, and cigarette-smoking habits.

Because even small similarities can be effective in producing a positive response to another and because a veneer of similarity can be so easily manufactured, I would advise special caution in the presence of requesters who claim to be “just like you.”

Indeed, it would be wise these days to be careful around salespeople who just seem to be just like you.

Actor McLean Stevenson once described how his wife tricked him into marriage: “She said she liked me.”

Each month he sent every one of his more than thirteen thousand former customers a holiday greeting card containing a personal message. The holiday greeting changed from month to month (Happy New Year or Happy Thanksgiving, etc.), but the message printed on the face of the card never varied. It read, “I like you.” As Joe explained it, “There’s nothing else on the card. Nothin’ but my name. I’m just telling ’em that I like ’em.”

“I like you.” It came in the mail every year, twelve times a year, like clockwork. “I like you,” on a printed card that went off to thirteen thousand other people, too.

The essence of the jigsaw route to learning is to require that students work together to master the material scheduled for an upcoming examination.

“Okay, you can tease him if you want to,” she said, “and that might be fun for you, but it’s not going to help you learn about Joseph Pulitzer’s middle years. The exam will take place in about an hour.” Notice how she changed the reinforcement contingencies. Now Mary doesn’t gain much from putting Carlos down, and she stands to lose a great deal. After a few days and several such experiences, it began to dawn on these kids that the only chance they had to learn about Carlos’s segment was by paying attention to what Carlos had to say.

The important thing for the advertiser is to establish the connection; it doesn’t have to be a logical one, just a positive one.

termed the “luncheon technique,” he found that his subjects became fonder of the people and things they experienced while they were eating.

And that is even why the women playing Barnyard Bingo at a Tupperware party must yell the word “Tupperware” rather than “Bingo” before they can rush to the center of the floor for a prize. It may be “Tupperware” for the women, but it’s “Bingo” for the company.

Whatever fragment of an identity that ravaged, mute man still possessed was engaged by soccer play. No matter how weakened his ego may have become after thirty years of wordless stagnation in a hospital ward, it was involved in the outcome of the match. Why? Because he, personally, would be diminished by a hometown defeat. How? Through the principle of association.

The mere connection of birthplace hooked him, wrapped him, tied him to the approaching triumph or failure.

“All things being equal, you root for your own sex, your own culture, your own locality…and what you want to prove is that you are better than the other person. Whomever you root for represents you; and when he wins, you win.”

The results showed that many more home-school shirts were worn if the football team had won its game on the prior Saturday. What’s more, the larger the margin of victory, the more such shirts appeared. It wasn’t a close, hard-fought game that caused the students to dress themselves, literally, in success; instead, it was a clear, crushing conquest smacking of indisputable superiority.

Have you noticed, for example, how often after a home-team victory fans crowd into the range of a TV camera, thrust their index fingers high, and shout, “We’re number one! We’re number one!”

Home-team defeats are the times for distancing oneself. Here “we” is not nearly as preferred as the insulating pronoun “they.”

By concentrating our attention on the effect rather than the causes, we can avoid the laborious, nearly impossible task of trying to detect and deflect the many psychological influences on liking. Instead, we have to be sensitive to only one thing related to liking in our contacts with compliance practitioners: the feeling that we have come to like the practitioner more quickly or more deeply than we would have expected.

Once we notice this feeling, we will have been tipped off that there is probably some tactic being used, and we can start taking the necessary countermeasures.

To Milgram’s mind, evidence of a chilling phenomenon emerges repeatedly from his accumulated data: “It is the extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority that constitutes the chief finding of the study.”

the closest biblical representation of the Milgram experiment—the respectful account of Abraham’s willingness to plunge a dagger through the heart of his young son, because God, without any explanation, ordered it. We learn it this story that the correctness of an action was not adjudged by such considerations as apparent senselessness, harmfulness, injustice, or usual moral standards, but by the mere command of a higher authority. Abraham’s tormented ordeal was a test of obedience,

The simultaneous blessing and bane of such blind obedience is its mechanical character. We don’t have to think; therefore, we don’t.

A fundamental form of defense against this problem, therefore, is a heightened awareness of authority power.

when we are confronted with what appears to be an authority figure’s influence attempt, “Is this authority truly an expert?”

Suppose, though, we are confronted with an authority we determine is a relevant expert. Before submitting to authority influence, it would be wise to ask a second simple question: “How truthful can we expect the expert to be here?”

When asking ourselves about such a person’s trustworthiness, we should keep in mind a little tactic compliance practitioners often use to assure us of their sincerity: They will seem to argue to a degree against their own interests.

By combining the factors of reciprocity and credible authority into a single, elegant maneuver, Vincent was able to inflate substantially both the percentage of his tip and the base charge on which it was figured.

His proceeds from this trick were handsome, indeed. But notice that much of his profit came from an apparent lack of concern for personal profit. Seeming to argue against his financial interests served those interests extremely well.

When it was time for the first person, normally a lady, to order, he went into his act. No matter what she selected, Vincent reacted identically: His brow furrowed, his hand hovered above his order pad, and after looking quickly over his shoulder for the manager, he leaned conspiratorially toward the table to report for all to hear, “I’m afraid that is not as good tonight as it normally is. Might I recommend instead the____or the____?” (Here Vincent suggested a pair of menu items that were fifty cents or so less expensive than the dish the patron had selected initially.) “They are both excellent tonight.”

With this single maneuver, Vincent engaged several important principles of influence. First, even those who did not take his suggestions felt that Vincent had done them a favor by offering valuable information to help them order. Everyone felt grateful, and consequently the rule for reciprocity would work in his favor when it came time to decide on his gratuity. But besides hiking the percentage of his tip, Vincent’s maneuver also placed him in a favorable position to increase the size of the table’s order. It established him as an authority on the current stores of the house; he clearly knew what was and wasn’t good that night. Moreover—and this is where seeming to argue against his own interests came in—it proved him to be a trustworthy informant, because he recommended dishes that were slightly less expensive than originally ordered. Rather than trying to line his own pockets, he seemed to have the customers’ best interests at heart.

they were seeming to argue against their own interests so I’d see them as trustworthy authorities; but I didn’t realize this until much later.

The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost. —G. K. CHESTERTON

It became clear as I spoke that the special lure of the temple had a sole cause: If I did not experience the restricted sector shortly, I would never again have the chance. Something that, on its own merits, held little appeal for me had become decidedly more attractive merely because it would soon become unavailable.

“You may want to think seriously about buying more than one case today because production is backed way up and there’s no telling when we’ll get any more in.”

Note how the scarcity principle was employed during the second and third phone calls to cause Mr. Gulban to “buy quickly without thinking too much about it.”

The tendency to fight for every liberty and against every restriction might be best understood as a quest for information. By testing severely the limits of their freedoms (and coincidentally, the patience of their parents), the children are discovering where in their worlds they can expect to be controlled and where they can expect to be in control.

As we will see later, the wise parent provides highly consistent information.

there’s the odd case of Kennesaw, Georgia, the town that enacted a law requiring every adult resident to own a gun and ammunition, under penalty of six months in jail and a two-hundred-dollar fine. All the features of the Kennesaw gun law make it a prime target for psychological reactance: The freedom that the law restricts is an important, long-standing one to which most American citizens feel entitled.

For example, when University of North Carolina students learned that a speech opposing coed dorms on campus would be banned, they became more opposed to the idea of coed dorms. Thus, without ever hearing the speech, they became more sympathetic to its argument.

This raises the worrisome possibility that especially clever individuals holding a weak or unpopular position can get us to agree with that position by arranging to have their message restricted.

political and legal change proved substantially easier to enact than social change.

In keeping with a distinct historical pattern of revolution, blacks in the United States were more rebellious when their prolonged progress was curtailed somewhat than they were before it began. This pattern offers a valuable lesson for would-be rulers: When it comes to freedoms, it is more dangerous to have given for a while than never to have given at all.

an especially hot variety of hell to pay.

Freedoms once granted will not be relinquished without a fight.

We should not be surprised, then, when research shows that parents who enforce discipline inconsistently produce generally rebellious children.

The results showed that those whose cookies became scarce through the process of social demand liked them significantly more than those whose cookies became scarce by mistake. In fact, the cookies made less available through social demand were rated the most desirable of any in the study.

There is a noticeable parallel between the ways that commercial fishermen and department stores generate a competitive fury in those they wish to hook. To attract and arouse the catch, fishermen scatter some loose bait called chum. For similar reasons, department stores holding a bargain sale toss out a few especially good deals on prominently advertised items called loss leaders. If the bait, of either form, has done its job, a large and eager crowd forms to snap it up.

Therein lies an important insight. The joy is not in experiencing a scarce commodity but in possessing it. It is important that we not confuse the two.

Each prospect who was interested enough to want to see the car was given an appointment time—the same appointment time. So if six people were scheduled, they were all scheduled for, say, two o’clock that afternoon.

Often the earlier arrival, inadvertently stoking the sense of rivalry, would assert his right to primary consideration. “Just a minute, now. I was here first.” If he didn’t assert that right, Richard would do it for him. Addressing the second buyer, Richard would say, “Excuse me, but this other gentleman was here before you. So can I ask you to wait on the other side of the driveway for a few minutes until he’s finished looking at the car? Then, if he decides he doesn’t want it or if he can’t make up his mind, I’ll show it to you.”

Richard claims it was possible to watch the agitation grow on the first buyer’s face. His leisurely assessment of the car’s pros and cons had suddenly become a now-or-never, limited-time-only rush to decision over a contested resource.

PINE: I guess your long hair makes you a girl. ZAPPA: I guess your wooden leg makes you a table.

We are likely to use these lone cues when we don’t have the inclination, time, energy, or cognitive resources to undertake a complete analysis of the situation. Where we are rushed, stressed, uncertain, indifferent, distracted, or fatigued, we tend to focus on less of the information available to us.

Compliance professionals who play fairly by the rules of shortcut response are not to be considered the enemy; on the contrary, they are our allies in an efficient and adaptive process of exchange.

The proper targets for counteraggression are only those individuals who falsify, counterfeit, or misrepresent the evidence that naturally cues our shortcut responses.

We should refuse to watch TV programs that use canned laughter. If we see a bartender beginning a shift by salting his tip jar with a bill or two of his own, he should get none from us.

If, after waiting in line outside a nightclub, we discover from the amount of available space that the wait was designed to impress passersby with false evidence of the club’s popularity, we should leave immediately and announce our reason to those still in line. In short, we should be willing to use boycott, threat, confrontation, censure, tirade, nearly anything, to retaliate.

The real treachery, and the thing we cannot tolerate, is any attempt to make their profit in a way that threatens the reliability of our shortcuts. The blitz of modern daily life demands that we have faithful shortcuts, sound rules of thumb to handle it all. These are not luxuries any longer; they are out-and-out necessities that figure to become increasingly vital as the pulse of daily life quickens.