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Debasement

 

Techniques General persuasionKellerman and Cole's 64 Strategies > Debasement

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Get others to comply with your request by debasing yourself, showing yourself as inferior to them and just pleading for their help.

You can lay this on thick, using sob-stories and other indications that your life is terrible and that only they can save you. Show yourself as so far below them you can never be considered to be a threat to them, and that helping you would be a gracious act of charity. 

Example

Please, please don't tell on me. I'll get into so much trouble. I beg you, don't tell.

I'm completely out of luck and don't know where to turn. Can you help, just a little?

Discussion

A principle of debasement is to appeal to pity, tugging on their heartstrings and getting them to feel sorry for you. The self-debasement positions yourself as vulnerable, which plays on the social rule that we should help those who cannot help themselves.

A danger with debasing oneself is that it frames you as being of very low status. The risk with this is that others will assume that this is your new social position, with the result that you are permanently pushed way down the social hierarchy.

Debasement is the 18th of the 64 compliance-gaining strategies described by Kellerman and Cole.

See also

Altruism, Appeal to Pity, Vulnerability and Values

 

Kellermann, K. & Cole, T. (1994). Classifying compliance gaining messages: Taxonomic disorder and strategic confusion. Communication Theory, 1, 3-60

 

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