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Insights

Thoughts and writings from the world of Ionia

On the Six Rules of Influence: Reciprocity

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Simply, the principle of reciprocity is the tendency people have to return a favor

Let's highlight a foundation of behavior modification, social influence. There are six important principles of social influence: liking, reciprocity, social proof, consistency, authority, and scarcity. Each of these principles function as a heuristic about how to behave and have all shown to have a strong influence on the behavior of others. Simply, the principle of reciprocity is the tendency people have to return a favor; this can be readily seen in marketing with free samples or asking a patient or caregiver to do a favor for you (i.e.,” take this medicine everyday, do it for me”)

An interesting example of this was the aid Ethiopia provided to Mexico during the 1985 earthquake.

An interesting example of this was the aid Ethiopia provided to Mexico during the 1985 earthquake. At the time, Ethiopia was suffering from a crippling famine as well as civil war, but Mexico had previously supported Ethiopia when Italy invaded the country in 1935. As a result, Ethiopia felt compelled to offer what assistance they could during Mexico’s time of need. An extreme case, but the good cop/bad cop strategy in negotiations is a more tangible and accessible use of this principle. In exchange for defense and support from the good cop, the person targeted instinctively offers up more information and reduces barriers to information. 

With patients, peers, staff and caregiver, interacting with the knowledge of reciprocity goes a long way for optimizing many kinds of behavior modifications. Try using it this week with patients and caregivers, alike. 

 

-Matt

Matt is a behavioral economics expert and would like to arm each of you with behavioral science tools to address strategic delivery challenges. His firm, Ionia.co designs processes to optimize human motivation, persuasion, influence, perception, behavioral nudges, and gamification. If you are interested in engaging with your patients, please email him at matt@ionia.co or call at 205.757.7677.