Last week, since both my friend and I ran out of our skin care products, we went to the Bluemercury in Ardmore to buy some new ones. Once we entered, the Beauty Advisor was very enthusiastic to us and asked us whether we need something. Actually I had already decided which brand to buy, but since she was so eager to help, I told her that I wanted to find face cream. This Beauty Advisor then brought all different brands of face cream to me and introduced all their differences and traits for me. She also gave me small samples to try their texture and smell. Finally, I chose from one of the products among those she gave me to try, though it was more expensive than the original one I intended to buy. My friend, however, reacted totally opposite of me: no matter what the Beauty Advisor said or recommended, she always insisted on the original brand she planned to buy. However, when I went back home, I regretted to buy it because I felt like it was no difference with the cheaper one I intended to buy at first.
After learning about Cialdini’s 6 principles of influence, I think my experience can be a great example of the rule of reciprocity. The rule of reciprocity is a tendency that people feel obligated to do something for some one because this person first do something for them. In this case, since the Beauty Advisor treated me warmly and kindly, and gave me many samples to try, I felt like she had done a lot for me, as a result, I felt obligated to buy products she recommended to me, even if they were more expensive. If I had been aware of the rule of reciprocity during the process, I might be more rational when the Beauty Advisor recommended products for me, but I still possibly bought what she recommended, since I really felt guilty if she spent much time treating me and I just ignored her and insisted my own idea!
However, my friend was behaving as inconsistent with rule of reciprocity. She was not influenced by what the others had said or done for her and insisted of her original idea all the time. The huge difference between her and me makes me attribute the explanation according to Elaboration Likelihood Model, which process of attitude change can be seen from “Who said what to whom, under what circumstances.” Here I want to focus on audience characteristics, which is the “whom” part in the sentence. Audience characteristics include self-esteem, ability, intelligence, motivation, etc. If one person has low self-esteem, he or she will be easier to be persuaded, because of the uncertainty about self. I’m a person with low self-esteem, therefore, when others treated me eagerly in order to change my attitude, I am more likely to go through peripheral processing, which focuses on irrelevant cues rather than systematically considering about the quality, since I was not confident about myself and the decision I made. My friend, comparing to me, is a person with high self-esteem who is not easily persuaded. She is more likely to go through central processing, which focuses more on the quality rather than other irrelevant cues. Therefore, no matter what others said to her, if she already had an idea in mind, she will not change it.