1. Honest, this animal researcher’s name is Fox. See his 1974 monograph for a complete description of the turkey and polecat experiment.

2. Sources for the robin and bluethroat information are Lack (1943) and Peiponen (1960), respectively.

3. Although several important similarities exist between this kind of automatic responding in humans and lower animals, there are some important differences as well. The automatic behavior sequences of humans tend to be learned rather than inborn, more flexible than the lock-step patterns of the lower animals, and responsive to a larger number of triggers.

4. Perhaps the common “because…just because” response of children asked to explain their behavior can be traced to their shrewd recognition of the unusual amount of power adults appear to assign to the raw word because.

The reader who wishes to find a more systematic treatment of Langer’s Xerox study and her conceptualization of it can do so in Langer (1989).

5. Sources for the Photuris and the blenny information are Lloyd (1965) and Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1958), respectively. As exploitative as these creatures seem, they are topped in this respect by an insect known as the rove beetle. By using a variety of triggers involving smell and touch, the rove beetles get two species of ants to protect, groom, and feed them as larvae and to harbor them for the winter as adults. Responding mechanically to the beetles’ trick trigger features, the ants treat the beetles as though they were fellow ants. Inside the ant nests, the beetles respond to their hosts’ hospitality by eating ant eggs and young, yet they are never harmed (Hölldobler, 1971).

6. These studies are reported by Kenrick and Gutierres (1980), who warn that the unrealistically attractive people portrayed in the popular media (for example, actors, actresses, models) may cause us to be less satisfied with the looks of the genuinely available romantic possibilities around us. More recent work by these authors takes their argument a step farther, showing that exposure to the exaggerated sexual attractiveness of nude pinup bodies (in such magazines as Playboy and Playgirl) causes people to become less pleased with the sexual desirability of their current spouse or live-in mate (Kenrick, Gutierres, and Goldberg, 1989).


7. A formal description of the greeting-card study is provided in Kunz and Woolcott (1976).

8. Certain societies have formalized the rule into ritual. Consider for example the “Vartan Bhanji,” an institutionalized custom of the gift exchange common to parts of Pakistan and India. In commenting upon the “Vartan Bhanji,” Gouldner (1960) remarks:

It is…notable that the system painstakingly prevents the total elimination of outstanding obligations. Thus, on the occasion of a marriage, departing guests are given gifts of sweets. In weighing them out, the hostess may say, “These five are yours,” meaning “These are a repayment for what you formerly gave me,” and then she adds an extra measure, saying, “These are mine.” On the next occasion, she will receive these back along with an additional measure which she later returns, and so on.

9. The quote is from Leakey and Lewin (1978).

10. For a fuller discussion, see Tiger and Fox (1971).

11. The experiment is reported formally in Regan (1971).

12. The statement appears in Mauss (1954).

13. Surprise is an effective compliance producer in its own right. People who are surprised by a request will often comply because they are momentarily unsure of themselves and, consequently, influenced easily. For example, the social psychologists Stanley Milgram and John Sabini (1975) have shown that people riding on the New York subway were twice as likely to give up their seats to a person who surprised them with the request “Excuse me. May I have your seat?” than to one who forewarned them first by mentioning to a fellow passenger that he was thinking of asking for someone’s seat (56 percent vs. 28 percent).

14. It is interesting that a cross-cultural study has shown that those who break the reciprocity rule in the reverse direction—by giving without allowing the recipient an opportunity to repay—are also disliked for it. This result was found to hold for each of the three nationalities investigated—Americans, Swedes, and Japanese. See Gergen et al. (1975) for an account of the study.

15. The Pittsburgh study was done by Greenberg and Shapiro. The data on women’s sexual obligations were collected by George, Gournic, and McAfee (1988).

16. To convince ourselves that this result was no fluke, we conducted two more experiments testing the effectiveness of the rejection-then-retreat trick. Both showed results similar to the first experiment. See Cialdini et al. (1975) for the details of all three.

17. The Israeli study was conducted in 1979 by Schwartzwald, Raz, and Zvibel.

18. The TV Guide article appeared in December 1978.

19. The source for the quotes is Magruder (1974).

20. Consumer Reports, January 1975, p. 62.

21. Another way of gauging the effectiveness of a request technique is to examine the bottom-line proportion of individuals who, after being asked, complied with the request. Using such a measure, the rejection-then-retreat procedure was more than four times more effective than the procedure of asking for the smaller request only. See Miller et al. (1976) for a complete description of the study.

22. The blood-donation study was reported by Cialdini and Ascani (1976).

23. The UCLA study was performed by Benton, Kelley, and Liebling in 1972.

24. A variety of other business operations use the no-cost information offer extensively. Pest-exterminator companies, for instance, have found that most people who agree to a free home examination give the extermination job to the examining company, provided they are convinced that it is needed. They apparently feel an obligation to give their business to the firm that rendered the initial, complimentary service. Knowing that such customers are unlikely to comparisonshop for this reason, unscrupulous pest-control operators will take advantage of the situation by citing higher-than-competitive prices for work commissioned in this way.

CHAPTER 3 (PAGES 57–113)

25. The racetrack study was done twice, with the same results, by Knox and Inkster (1968). See Rosenfeld, Kennedy, and Giacalone (1986) for evidence that the tendency to believe more strongly in choices, once made, applies to guesses in a lottery game, too.

26. It is important to note that the collaboration was not always intentional. The American investigators defined collaboration as “any kind of behavior which helped the enemy,” and it thus included such diverse activities as signing peace petitions, running errands, making radio appeals, accepting special favors, making false confessions, informing on fellow prisoners, or divulging military information.

27. The Schein quote comes from his 1956 article “The Chinese Indoctrination Program for Prisoners of War: A Study of Attempted Brainwashing.”

28. See Greene (1965) for the source of this advice.

29. Freedman and Fraser published their data in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, in 1966.

30. The quote comes from Freedman and Fraser (1966).

31. See Segal (1954) for the article from which this quote originates.

32. See Jones and Harris (1967).

33. It is noteworthy that the housewives in this study (Kraut, 1973) heard that they were considered charitable at least a full week before they were asked to donate to the Multiple Sclerosis Association.

34. From “How to Begin Retailing,” Amway Corporation.

35. See Deutsch and Gerard (1955) and Kerr and MacCoun (1985) for the details of these studies.

36. From Whiting, Kluckhohn, and Anthony (1958).

37. From Gordon and Gordon (1963).

38. The survey was conducted by Walker (1967).

39. The electric-shock experiment was published seven years after the Aronson and Mills (1959) study by Gerard and Mathewson (1966).

40. Young (1965) conducted this research.

41. The robot study is reported fully in Freedman (1965).

42. The reader who wishes stronger evidence for the action of the lowball tactic than my subjective observations in the car showroom may refer to articles that attest to its effectiveness under controlled, experimental conditions: Cialdini et al. (1978), Burger and Petty (1981), Brownstein and Katzev (1985), and Joule (1987).

43. A formal report of the energy-conservation project appears in Pallak et al. (1980).

44. It is not altogether unusual for even some of our most familiar quotations to be truncated by time in ways that greatly modify their character. For example, it is not money that the Bible claims as the root of all evil, it is the love of money. So as not to be guilty of the same sort of error myself, I should note that the Emerson quote from “Self-Reliance” is somewhat longer and substantially more textured than I have reported. In full, it reads, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds adored by little statesmen, and philosophers, and divines.”

45. See Zajonc (1980) for a summary of this evidence.

46. This is not to say that what we feel about an issue is always different from or always to be trusted more than what we think about it. However, the data are clear that our emotions and beliefs often do not point in the same direction. Therefore, in situations involving a decisional commitment likely to have generated supporting rationalizations, feelings may well provide the truer counsel. This would be especially so when, as in the question of Sara’s happiness, the fundamental issue at hand concerns an emotion (Wilson, 1989).

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47. The general evidence regarding the facilitative effect of canned laughter on responses to humor comes from such studies as Smyth and Fuller (1972), Fuller and Sheehy-Skeffinton (1974), and Nosanchuk and Lightstone the last of which contains the indication that canned laughter is most effective for poor material.

48. The researchers who infiltrated the Graham Crusade and who provided the quote are Altheide and Johnson (1977).

49. See Bandura, Grusec, and Menlove (1967) and Bandura and Menlove (1968) for full descriptions of the dog-phobia treatment.

Any reader who doubts that the seeming appropriateness of an action is importantly influenced by the number of others performing it might try a small experiment. Stand on a busy sidewalk, pick out an empty spot in the sky or on a tall building, and stare at it for a full minute. Very little will happen around you during that time—most people will walk past without glancing up, and virtually no one will stop to stare with you. Now, on the next day, go to the same place and bring along four friends to look upward too. Within sixty seconds, a crowd of passersby will have stopped to crane their necks skyward with the group. For those pedestrians who do not join you, the pressure to look up at least briefly will be nearly irresistible; if your experiment brings the same results as the one performed by three New York social psychologists, you and your friends will cause 80 percent of all passersby to lift their gaze to your empty spot (Milgram, Bickman, and Berkowitz, 1967).

50. Other research besides O’Connor’s (1972) suggests that there are two sides to the filmed-social-proof coin, however. The dramatic effect of filmed depictions on what children find appropriate has been a source of great distress for those concerned with frequent instances of violence and aggression on television. Although the consequences of televised violence on the aggressive actions of children are far from simple, the data from a well-controlled experiment by psychologists Robert Liebert and Robert Baron (1972) have an ominous look. Some children were shown excerpts from a television program in which people intentionally harmed another. Afterward, these children were significantly more harmful toward another child than were children who had watched a nonviolent television program (a horserace). The finding that seeing others perform aggressively led to more aggression on the part of the young viewers held true for the two age groups tested (five-to-six-year-olds and eight-to-nine-year-olds) and for both girls and boys.

51. An engagingly written report of their complete findings is presented in Festinger, Riecken, and Schachter’s (1956) book When Prophecy Fails.

52. Perhaps because of the quality of ragged desperation with which they approached their task, the believers were wholly unsuccessful at enlarging their number. Not a single convert was gained. At that point, in the face of the twin failures of physical and social proof, the cult quickly disintegrated. Less than three weeks after the date of the predicted flood, group members were scattered and maintaining only sporadic communication with one another. In one final—and ironic—disconfirmation of prediction, it was the movement that perished in the flood.

Ruin has not always been the fate of doomsday groups whose predictions proved unsound, however. When such groups have been able to build social proof for their beliefs through effective recruitment efforts, they have grown and prospered. For example, when the Dutch Anabaptists saw their prophesied year of destruction, 1533, pass uneventfully, they became rabid seekers after converts, pouring unprecedented amounts of energy into the cause. One extraordinarily eloquent missionary, Jakob van Kampen, is reported to have baptized one hundred persons in a single day. So powerful was the snowballing social evidence in support of the Anabaptist position that it rapidly overwhelmed the disconfirming physical evidence and turned two thirds of the population of Holland’s great cities into adherents.

53. From Rosenthal’s Thirty-eight Witnesses, 1964.

54. This quote comes from Latané and Darley’s award-winning book (1968), where they introduced the concept of pluralistic ignorance.

The potentially tragic consequences of the pluralistic ignorance phenomenon are starkly illustrated in a UPI news release from Chicago:

A university coed was beaten and strangled in daylight hours near one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, police said Saturday.

The nude body of Lee Alexis Wilson, 23, was found Friday in dense shrubbery alongside the wall of the Art Institute by a 12-year-old boy playing in the bushes.

Police theorized she may have been sitting or standing by a fountain in the Art Institute’s south plaza when she was attacked. The assailant apparently then dragged her into the bushes. She apparently was sexually assaulted, police said.

Police said thousands of persons must have passed the site and one man told them he heard a scream about 2 P.M. but did not investigate because no one else seemed to be paying attention.

55. The New York “seizure” and “smoke” emergency studies are reported by Darley and Latané (1968) and Latané and Darley (1968), respectively. The Toronto experiment was performed by Ross (1971). The Florida studies were published by Clark and Word in 1972 and 1974.

56. See a study by Latané and Rodin (1969) showing that groups of strangers help less in an emergency than groups of acquaintances.

57. The wallet study was conducted by Hornstein et al. (1968), the antismoking study by Murray et al. (1984), and the dental anxiety study by Melamed et al. (1978).

58. The sources of these statistics are articles by Phillips in 1979 and 1980.

59. The newspaper story data are reported by Phillips (1974), while the TV story data come from Bollen and Phillips (1982), Gould and Schaffer (1986), Phillips and Carstensen (1986), and Schmidtke and Hafner (1988).

60. These new data appear in Phillips (1983).

61. The quote is from The International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians, 1964, which Sabin edited.

62. From Hornaday (1887).

CHAPTER 5 (PAGES 167–207)

63. The Canadian election study was reported by Efran and Patterson (1976). Data of this sort give credence to the claim of some Richard Nixon backers that the failure that contributed most to the loss of the 1960 TV debates with John F. Kennedy—and thereby to the election—was the poor performance of Nixon’s makeup man.

64. See Mack and Rainey (1990).

65. This finding—that attractive defendants, even when they are found guilty, are less likely to be sentenced to prison—helps explain one of the more fascinating experiments in criminology I have heard of (Kurtzburg et al., 1968). Some New York City jail inmates with facial disfigurements were given plastic surgery while incarcerated; others with similar disfigurements were not. Furthermore, some of each of these two groups of criminals were given services (for example, counseling and training) designed to rehabilitate them to society. One year after their release, a check of the records revealed that (except for heroin addicts) those given the cosmetic surgery were significantly less likely to have returned to jail. The most interesting feature of this finding was that it was equally true for those criminals who had not received the traditional rehabilitative services as for those who had. Apparently, some criminologists then argued, when it comes to ugly inmates, prisons would be better off to abandon the costly rehabilitation treatments they typically provide and offer plastic surgery instead; the surgery seems to be at least as effective and decidedly less expensive.

The importance of the newer, Pennsylvania data (Stewart, 1980) is its suggestion that the argument for surgery as a means of rehabilitation may be faulty. Making an ugly criminal more attractive may not reduce the chances that he will commit another crime; it may only reduce his chances of being sent to jail for it.

66. The negligence-award study was done by Kulka and Kessler (1978), the helping study by Benson et al. (1976), and the persuasion study by Chaiken (1979).

67. An excellent review of this research is provided by Eagly et al. (1991).

68. The dime-request experiment was conducted by Emswiller et al. (1971), while the petition-signing experiment was done by Suedfeld et al. (1971).

69. The insurance sales data were reported by Evans (1963). The “mirroring and matching” evidence comes from work by LaFrance (1985), Locke and Horowitz (1990), and Woodside and Davenport (1974). Additional work suggests yet another reason for caution when dealing with similar requesters: We typically underestimate the degree to which similarity affects our liking for another (Gonzales et al., 1983).

70. See Drachman et al. (1978) for a complete description of the findings.

71. Bornstein (1989) summarizes much of this evidence.

72. The mirror study was performed by Mita et al. (1977).

73. For general evidence regarding the positive effect of familiarity on attraction, see Zajonc (1968). For more specific evidence of this effect on our response to politicians, the research of Joseph Grush is enlightening and sobering (Grush et al., 1978; Grush, 1980), in documenting a strong connection between amount of media exposure and a candidate’s chances of winning an election.

74. See Bornstein, Leone, and Galley (1987).

75. For an especially thorough examination of this issue, see Stephan (1978).

76. The evidence of the tendency of ethnic groups to stay with their own in school comes from Gerard and Miller (1975). The evidence for the dislike of things repeatedly presented under unpleasant conditions comes from such studies as Burgess and Sales (1971), Zajonc et al. (1974), and Swap (1977).

77. From Aronson (1975).

78. A fascinating description of the entire boys’-camp project, called the “Robbers’ Cave Experiment,” can be found in Sherif et al. (1961).

79. The Carlos example comes once again from Aronson’s initial report in his 1975 article. However, additional reports by Aronson and by others have shown similarly encouraging results. A representative list would include Johnson and Johnson (1983), DeVries and Slavin (1978), Cook (1990), and Aronson, Bridgeman, and Geffner (1978a, b).

80. For a careful examination of the possible pitfalls of cooperative learning approaches, see Rosenfield and Stephan (1981).

81. In truth, little in the way of combat takes place when the salesman enters the manager’s office under such circumstances. Often, because the salesman knows exactly the price below which he cannot go, he and the boss don’t even speak. In one car dealership I infiltrated while researching this book, it was common for a salesman to have a soft drink or cigarette in silence while the boss continued working at his desk. After a seemly time, the salesman would loosen his tie and return to his customers, looking weary but carrying the deal he had just “hammered out” for them—the same deal he had in mind before entering the boss’s office.

82. For experimental evidence of the validity of Shakespeare’s observation, see Manis et al. (1974).

83. A review of research supporting this statement is provided by Lott and Lott (1965).

84. See the study by Miller et al. (1966) for evidence.

85. The study was done by Smith and Engel (1968).

86. The rights to such associations don’t come cheaply. Corporate sponsors spend millions to secure Olympic sponsorships, and they spend many millions more to advertise their connections to the event. Yet it may all be worth the expense. An Advertising Age survey found that one third of all consumers said they would be more likely to purchase a product if it were linked to the Olympics.

87. The Georgia study was done by Rosen and Tesser (1970).

88. From Asimov (1975).

89. Both the sweatshirt and the pronoun experiments are reported fully in Cialdini et al. (1976).

CHAPTER 6 (PAGES 208–236)

90. The quote is from Milgram’s 1963 article in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology.

91. All of these variations on the basic experiment, as well as several others, are presented in Milgram’s highly readable book Obedience to Authority, 1974. A review of much of the subsequent research on obedience can be found in Blass (1991).

92. In fact, Milgram first began his investigations in an attempt to understand how the German citizenry could have participated in the concentration-camp destruction of millions of innocents during the years of Nazi ascendancy. After testing his experimental procedures in the United States, he had planned to take them to Germany, a country whose populace he was sure would provide enough obedience for a full-blown scientific analysis of the concept. That first eye-opening experiment in New Haven, Connecticut, however, made it clear that he could save his money and stay close to home. “I found so much obedience,” he has said, “I hardly saw the need of taking the experiment to Germany.”

More telling evidence, perhaps, of a willingness within the American character to submit to authorized command comes from a national survey taken after the trial of Lieutenant William Calley, who ordered his soldiers to kill the inhabitants—from the infants and toddlers through their parents and grandparents—of My Lai, Vietnam (Kelman and Hamilton, 1989). A majority of Americans (51 percent) responded that, if so ordered, in a similar context, they too would shoot all the residents of a Vietnamese village. But Americans have no monopoly on the need to obey. When Milgram’s basic procedure has been repeated in Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, and Jordan, the results have been similar. See Meeus and Raaijmakers for a review.

93. We are not the only species to give sometimes wrongheaded deference to those in authority positions. In monkey colonies, where rigid dominance hierarchies exist, beneficial innovations (like learning how to use a stick to bring food into the cage area) do not spread quickly through the group unless they are taught first to a dominant animal. When a lower animal is taught the new concept first, the rest of the colony remains mostly oblivious to its value. One study, cited by Ardry (1970), on the introduction of new food tastes to Japanese monkeys provides a nice illustration. In one troop, a taste for caramels was developed by introducing this new food into the diet of young peripherals, low on the status ladder. The taste for caramels inched slowly up the ranks: A year and a half later, only 51 percent of the colony had acquired it, and still none of the leaders. Contrast this with what happened in a second troop where wheat was introduced first to the leader: Wheat eating—to this point unknown to these monkeys—spread through the whole colony within four hours.

94. The experiment was performed by Wilson (1968).

95. The study on children’s judgments of coins was done by Bruner and Goodman (1947). The study on college students’ judgments was done by Dukes and Bevan (1952). In addition to the relationship between importance (status) and perceived size that both of these experiments show, there is even some evidence that the importance we assign to our identity is reflected in the size of a frequent symbol of that identity: our signature. The psychologist Richard Zweigenhaft (1970) has collected data suggesting that as a man’s sense of his own status grows, so does the size of his signature. This finding may give us a secret way of discovering how the people around us view their own status and importance: Simply compare the size of their signature to that of their other handwriting.

96. Subhumans are not alone in this regard, even in modern times. For example, since 1900 the U.S. presidency has been won by the taller of the major-party candidates in twenty-one of the twenty-four elections.

97. From Hofling et al. (1966).

98. Additional data collected in the same study suggest that nurses may not be conscious of the extent to which the title Doctor sways their judgments and actions. A separate group of thirty-three nurses and student nurses were asked what they would have done in the experimental situation. Contrary to the actual findings, only two predicted that they would have given the medication as ordered.

99. See Bickman (1974) for a complete account of this research. Similar results have been obtained when the requester was female (Bushman, 1988).

100. This experiment was conducted by Lefkowitz, Blake, and Mouton (1955).

101. The horn-honking study was published in 1968 by Anthony Doob and Alan Gross.

102. For evidence, see Choo (1964), and McGuinnies and Ward (1980).

103. See Settle and Gorden (1974), Smith and Hunt (1978), and Hunt, Domzal, and Kernan (1981).

CHAPTER 7 (PAGES 237–272)

104. The home-insulation study was done by Gonzales, Costanzo, and Aronson (1988) in northern California; the breast-examination work was conducted by Meyerwitz and Chaiken (1987) in New York City.

105. See Schwartz (1980) for evidence of such a process.

106. See Lynn (1989). Without wishing to minimize the advantages of this type of shortcut or the dangers associated with it, I should note that these advantages and dangers are essentially the same ones we have examined in previous chapters. Accordingly, I will not focus on this theme in the remainder of the present chapter, except to say at this point that the key to using properly the shortcut feature of scarcity is to be alert to the distinction between naturally occurring, honest scarcity and the fabricated variety favored by certain compliance practitioners.

107. The original reactance-theory formulation appeared in Brehm (1966); a subsequent version appears in Brehm and Brehm (1981).

108. Brehm and Weintraub (1977) did the barrier experiment. It should be noted that two-year-old girls in the study did not show the same resistant response to the large barrier as did the boys. This does not seem to be because girls don’t oppose attempts to limit their freedoms. Instead, it appears that they are primarily reactant to restrictions that come from other people rather than from physical barriers (Brehm, 1983).

109. For descriptions of the two-year-old’s change in self-perception, see Mahler et al. (1975), Lewis and Brooks-Gunn (1979), Brooks-Gun and Lewis (1982), and Levine (1983).

110. The occurrence of the Romeo and Juliet effect should not be interpreted as a warning to parents to be always accepting of their teenagers’ romantic choices. New players at this delicate game are likely to err often and, consequently, would benefit from the direction of an adult with greater perspective and experience. In providing such direction, parents should recognize that teenagers, who see themselves as young adults, will not respond well to control attempts that are typical of parent-child relationships. Especially in the clearly adult arena of mating, adult tools of influence (preference and persuasion) will be more effective than traditional forms of parental control (prohibitions and punishments). Although the experience of the Montague and Capulet families is an extreme example, heavy-handed restrictions on a young romantic alliance may well turn it clandestine, torrid, and sad.

A full description of the Colorado couples study can be found in Driscoll et al. (1972).

111. See Mazis (1975) and Mazis et al. (1973) for formal reports of the phosphate study.

112. For evidence, see Ashmore et al. (1971), Wicklund and Brehm (1974), Worchel and Arnold (1973), Worchel et al. (1975), and Worchel (1991).

113. The Purdue study was done by Zellinger et al. (1974).

114. The University of Chicago jury experiment on inadmissible evidence was reported by Broeder (1959).

115. The initial statements of commodity theory appeared in Brock (1968) and Fromkin and Brock (1971). For an updated statement, see Brock and Bannon (1992).

116. For ethical reasons, the information provided to the customers was always true. There was an impending beef shortage and this news had, indeed, come to the company through its exclusive sources. See Knishinsky (1982) for full details of the project.

117. Worchel et al. (1975).

118. See Davies (1962, 1969).

119. See Lytton (1979), and Rosenthal and Robertson (1959).

120. The quote comes from MacKenzie (1974).


121. For evidence of such perceptual and decisional narrowing see Berkowitz (1967), Bodenhausen (1990), Cohen (1978), Easterbrook (1959), Gilbert and Osborn (1989), Hockey and Hamilton (1970), Mackworth (1965), Milgram (1970), and Tversky and Kahnemann (1974).

122. Quoted in the PBS-TV documentary The Information Society.

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