Chapter 5: Liking: The Friendly Thief

We like to say yes to people whom we like and know on a personal level. Cialdini notes that this liking rule is then professionally exploited in many ways.

Interpersonal relationships - Cialdini gives the example of the Tupperware party. Women are invited by their personal friends and then once at the party, feel obligated to purchase something regardless of whether they had planned to or if they need the product. This is because they have been included in games during the party and because they have a relationship to the hostess.

Other factors are given for ways that liking someone can be influential in getting them to say yes.

Physical attractiveness – Men who saw a car with a sexy woman rated the car as being faster. The image of the woman has persuaded them that this is true. Other studies find that more attractive individuals are more successful at getting hired and rise more quickly in companies.

Similarity – We like people who are similar to us. Additionally, we want to be accepted by others so we try to find things in common them so that we will appear similar to them. For instance, often in hearing someone talk about their interests a salesperson can narrow in on one that they know something about then focus on that to build the conversation and develop a rapport. (Note – In 2008 my then-finance's car salesman asked if we were married, and when we mentioned our upcoming wedding, he too shared that he was also getting married soon and went on to ask about all of our planning details – oh, aren't we alike!).

Praise – We are easily flattered by compliments or praise, and thus we are more apt to be influenced by someone who gives us these things. However, this can backfire if the praise giver does not seem genuine or comes across as manipulative.

Increased familiarity – We like things that feel familiar to us. That is, if we have been exposed to similar ideas in the past, something new is more likely to appeal to what we understand and care about.

Association – Much like the phrase “guilty by association” we can associate either positive or negative thoughts or feelings about something with a person. Advertisers associate their products with the latest in cultural trends. Cialdini provides examples of products being associated with the space program following the moon walk, and with athletes during Olympic years.

Conclusion - Cialdini states the best way to avoid effects of liking is simply to remain conscious of the effect itself. Even if you like the person, you must mentally retreat and consider whether their offer is truly one that is beneficial and not based on your connection to them. 

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