Benjamin Franklin Effect
Get people to like you with this ingenious trick
Do you sometimes get uncomfortable asking someone for a favor? It doesn’t have to be – quite the opposite: According to the Benjamin Franklin Effect, it even makes you more likeable!
Many of us do not like to ask for help and believe that we have to do everything on our own. This is total nonsense! The next time you’re struggling to descale the office coffee machine, maybe you should ask that colleague who always looks so unfriendly for help. In fact, you could even benefit twice if she does you a favor – she will probably find you more sympathetic than before.
I beg your pardon, you’re probably thinking now. Is it supposed to make me more likeable when someone else does something for me? Yes, that is indeed true and is a scientific phenomenon called the “Benjamin Franklin Effect”.
Benjamin Franklin already knew that: We like who we help
This psychological trick goes back to the American author and statesman Benjamin Franklin. He is said to have attracted a rival to his side. Franklin asked this acquaintance to be allowed to borrow a special book from his library. The man is said to have felt very flattered by this question and was happy to lend the book.
After the wily Franklin returned the book with a laudatory letter of thanks, his former enemy is said to have treated him with nothing but the greatest kindness – and they are said to have become lifelong friends.
The Benjamin Franklin effect: study confirms the effect
Although this entertaining anecdote has not been proven, the two psychologists Jon Jecker and David Landy were able to prove that the Benjamin Franklin effect named after it actually works in 1969 prove study. Three different groups won money. The first group was supposed to return their winnings because the psychology department allegedly ran out of money. The second group was approached personally by the head of the study and asked for the money to be returned. The last group could simply keep their winnings.
The result of the study: the participants liked the scientist best when they personally returned the money to him. The group that was allowed to keep their money found him the least sympathetic.
The researchers suspected that the Benjamin Franklin effect is based on cognitive dissonance. Our brains cannot reconcile the two distinct mental events of doing a favor and disliking that person. So it then chooses to like the person to eliminate the dissonance.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – people will like you for it!
Other psychologists suspect that the Benjamin Franklin effect is more based on the fact that we intuitively feel that the person who asks us for help wants to befriend us. Because of what is known as “reciprocal affection,” we then automatically reciprocate these positive feelings.
Whatever the explanation for this phenomenon is the right one. In any case, it seems to work. So next time you want someone to like you – do like Benjamin Franklin and ask them something. She won’t be able to help but like you!
Sources used: businessinsider.com, effectiviology.com