Basically, just give anything that even sounds like a reason, and people will be much more likely to accept whatever you’re saying. It doesn’t have to be a good reason at all, just as long as there is one.

Automaticity is a big word that means “we can do things without really thinking about it.” Like riding a bike while thinking about what you’ll have for dinner. Or driving a car while talking to someone.

“Automaticity is the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. It is usually the result of learning, repetition, and practice. Examples of automaticity are common activities such as walking, speaking, bicycle-riding, assembly-line work, and driving a car (see Highway hypnosis). After an activity is sufficiently practiced, it is possible to focus the mind on other activities or thoughts while undertaking an automatized activity (for example, holding a conversation or planning a speech while driving a car).” (Wikipedia: Automaticity)

The same Wikipedia entry also states the following:

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Using automaticity to influence

In “Influence,” Robert Cialdini’s book about social psychology and influence tactics, Cialdini explains how common automatic response patterns are in human behavior, and how easily they can be triggered, even with erroneous cues. He describes an experiment conducted by social psychologists Langer, Chanowitz, and Blank which illustrates how compliant people will be with a request if they hear words that sound like they are being given a reason, even if no actual reason is provided. The experimenters approached people standing in line to use a photocopier with one of three requests:
“Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”
“Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
“Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

When given the request plus a reason, 94% of people asked complied with the request. When given the request without a reason, only 60% complied. But when given the request with what sounds like a reason but isn’t, compliance jumped back to 93%. Langer, Chanowitz, and Blank are convinced that most human behavior falls into automatic response patterns.

However, when the request was made larger (20 pages instead of 5), subjects expected a sound reason before complying, as illustrated in the table.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

As long as you provide something that sounds like a reason, people will much more likely accept whatever you’re saying.

In that third example, the person says “I have to make some copies” as their reason for needing to cut in line to make some copies. That’s not a reason. They’re just re-stating the obvious. But in the form of what grammatically sounds like a reason, it works as one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s