We're thrilled to present this smart LearnVest story here on Savvy!
There are little tricks businesses use to get us to buy.
Some are pretty obvious, like sales and coupons.
Others are more subtle and nefarious, and may prey on the very good spirit of our human nature. A tad dramatic? Maybe not.
Recall those free address labels from the Disabled American Veterans? In the 1970s, they decided to send potential donors personalized labels in the mail, while soliciting donations. Their generous approach? They told people to keep the labels even if they didn't make a donation. After they did this, the number of people who made contributions nearly doubled — jumping from 18 to 35 percent.
Why was this marketing tactic so successful? Because of a little phenomenon called the rule of reciprocity.
It's not the end of the world if you end up donating to a great cause, but chances are you've been suckered into buying some random stuff you don't need because of this really powerful psychological phenomenon.
The Rule of Reciprocity: The Law of Give and Take
Made popular by Robert Cialdini's book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, the rule of reciprocity is the deeply ingrained human instinct to repay a debt.
According to Steve J. Martin, who coauthored the book Yes! 50 Secrets From the Science of Persuasion with Cialdini, the rule of reciprocity is fundamental to human nature. Every culture and ethnicity trains its children to abide by the rule of give and take. If someone gives something to us, we feel obligated to repay that debt. This rule operates not only with people you know, but also with strangers