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Ben Franklin Effect

 

Explanations > Theories > Ben Franklin Effect

Description | Research | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

When we do a person a favor, we tend to like them more as a result. This is because we justify our actions to ourselves that we did them a favor because we liked them.

Benjamin Franklin himself said, "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged."

The reverse effect is also true, and we come to hate our victims, which helps to explain wartime atrocities. We de-humanize the enemy, which decrease the dissonance of killing and other things in which we would never normally indulge.

Research

Jecker and Landy (1969) involved students in an intellectual contest where they could win significant money. Afterwards:

  • A: 1/3 were approached by the researcher and asked to return money as he had been using his own funds and was running short.
  • B: 1/3 were approached by a secretary and asked to return money as it was from the psychology department and funds were low.
  • C: 1/3 were not approached.

Then all were surveyed to see how much they liked the researcher. Group B rated him lower than Group C (so impersonal request for a favor decreases liking). Group A rated him higher than group C (so personal request for a favor increases liking).

So what?

Using it

Ask people to do you a small favor. Don’t return it immediately.

Defending

When people ask you for favors, watch out for feeling better about them.

See also

Cognitive Dissonance, Attribution Theory

References

Jecker and Landy (1969)

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