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Forced Compliance

 

Explanations > Theories > Forced Compliance

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

 

Description

People sometimes feel obliged to comply with commands against their will or better judgment. When this happens, some expected and some odd effects can happen:

  • People will comply with perceived authority, even acting in strongly immoral ways or doing other things that contradict their values.
  • Attempts at forced compliance can easily create a backlash effect, particularly amongst those who refuse to comply.
  • Persuaders who are disliked are more likely to be successful in creating a change in attitude.

The reason why disliked persuader are more effective is possibly because of the way people seek to explain and justify their actions.  If they comply with someone attractive or otherwise likable, they can tell themselves they were acting as a favor to the person or because they liked them.

Research

Zimbardo et al (1965) used an authority figure to pressure students into eating Japanese grasshoppers. When the persuader acted politely, a significant number of students later reported a lower affinity with eating grasshoppers than when the persuader was brusque.

Example

A sales manager rudely interrupts a sales person's spiel to correct performance details about car. The customer finds the car more interesting.

So What?

Using it

Be careful with this as having other people liking you is generally good for persuasion. An effective way of using this is with a collaborator who plays the persuasive 'bad guy' on a particular point to your 'good guy' who completes the overall persuasion.

Defending

Notice how you react to persuasive comments. You can sometimes be persuaded by attractive people and, as noted here, also by people who are less attractive!

See also

Cognitive Dissonance, The effects of betrayal

References

Smith (1961), Zimbardo et al. (1965)

 

 

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