How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Marwell and Schmitt's Compliance-gaining Strategies
Marwell and Schmitt identified sixteen strategies that are used in persuasion. They later added a shorter list of five categories.
These are the sixteen methods which Marwell and Schmitt suggested as being the primary ways by which people persuade others. While these have been criticized and perhaps superceded, they also have been very influential in other thinking about persuasion.
Reward / Promise
A reward is promised in return for desired action.
eg. If you buy today, I'll add an extra discount.
Punishment / Threat
A punishment or otherwise uncomfortable and unwanted event is promised if desired action is not taken.
eg. If you can't buy today, I won't be able give you a discount.
Taking the position of an expert, speaking with unchallengeable authority about reward that will be gained when the desired action is taken. This differs from the straight 'reward' category as the positive reward described here is something that is an external factor and is out of control of the influencer.
eg. If you buy today, there is a special discount the company is offering.
Taking the position of an expert, speaking with unchallengeable authority about punishment or bad things that will occur if the desired action is not taken. This differs from the straight 'punishment' category as the negative effect described here is something that is an external factor and is out of control of the influencer. In other words, the influencer (and the target) will be unable to stop it happening.
eg. If you don't buy today, the company is putting up the price tomorrow.
Liking / Ingratiation
This involves being friendly in order to get the person into a good frame of mind for buying. This results in them feeling an obligation to repay your kindness or otherwise help you as a friend, just as you have helped them.
eg. How are you? Come and have a coffee.
A gift of some kind is given to the person before trying to persuade them. This results in them feeling an obligation to give something to you in return.
eg. Here, have one of our special pens. They are really good quality.
Reminding the person that they are obliged to repay you for some past help you have given them. This is different to 'liking' or 'gifting' as it involves telling the person they are obliged, as opposed to assuming they will intrinsically feel obliged by themselves.
eg. Well, I've spent a lot of time with you on this. I think you owe me a decision today.
Repeatedly punish the person or otherwise make them feel uncomfortable until they concede and do as you want them to do. Nagging is like this.
eg. You know you'll get in trouble at home if you don't decide. They are probably already wondering where you are. If you don't return with a deal you'll get even more trouble there...
Imply that making the decision required would be moral, or that not doing so would be immoral.
eg. Buying today will be the right thing to do. Any delay will just cause other people ongoing problems.
Suggest that complying will make them feel good about themselves, both for the taking the action and knowing that they made a good decision.
eg. Imagine taking this home today. Wouldn't that feel so good?
Suggest that not complying will make them feel worse about themselves, both that they will feel bad about not doing as you suggest and that they will regret not making the decision you suggest.
eg. If you don't buy this now, you'll be kicking yourself by tomorrow.
Suggesting that any person who has desirable qualities such as being intelligent, ethical, etc. would make the decision you want them to make.
eg. Anybody with an ounce of sense would know this is a great buy.
Suggesting that the only type of person who would not do as you suggest would have undesirable negative qualities, such as stupidity, poor ethics, etc.
eg. Only an idiot would pass this deal by.
Appealing to their kindness, suggesting that to take the action would be helpful to you or other people.
eg. Look, to tell the truth, I am desperately low on my sales targets. Buying today would help me so much.
Positive Esteem of Others
Indicate that if they do as you suggest, then other people will think well of them, considering them clever, powerful, etc.
eg. If you take this home today, you'll be the envy of all your friends.
Negative Esteem of Others
Indicate that if they do not do as you suggest, then other people will think less of them, considering them stupid, unethical, etc.
eg. If you walk away without buying this now, your family will not be happy with you.
From these sixteen tactics, Marwell and Schmitt derived five basic categories of usage.
This involves suggesting that the person will gain in some way if they comply with your request, and that they will consequently feel good.
This involves suggesting that the person will lose out or otherwise feel punished in some way if they do not do as you suggest, resulting in them regretting their non-compliance.
This leads to the person thinking that they are expert or have some special knowledge that allows them to make the right decision.
Activation of impersonal commitments
This uses an appeal to the person internal commitments, for example suggesting they will feel bad about themselves if they do not comply with your suggestion.
Activation of personal commitments
This provokes thought about the person's commitments to others, including you, for example reminding them of their obligations.
Marwell, G. and Schmitt, D.R. (1967). Dimensions of compliance-gaining behavior: An empirical analysis. Sociometery, 30, 350-364.
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