Ben Franklin Effect: Can You Do Me A Favor?

Have You Ever?

Have you ever thought long and hard about how you could make someone who doesn’t like you, come to like you? Well, Ben Franklin (that’s right one of our founding fathers) suggested you ask that individual for a favor to get on their good side. This idea became known as the Ben Franklin Effect.

Explanation

This term is associated with the cognitive dissonance theory, which says that people change their attitudes or behavior to resolve tensions, or “dissonance,” between their thoughts, beliefs, and actions. In the case of the Ben Franklin effect, the dissonance is between the subject’s negative attitudes towards the other person and the knowledge that they did that person a favor. Because the individual does that person a favor, he/she is likely to be convinced the person is likeable. The change in attitude can prevent or resolve any dissonance between the individual’s opinion about and actions towards the other person.

Definition of Ben Franklin Effect

The Ben Franklin effect is a psychological phenomenon where an individual who has done someone a favor is more likely to do that person another favor. More likely, in fact, than if he/she had received the favor.

The History

The Ben Franklin effect is named after founding father, Benjamin Franklin. In his autobiography, Ben Franklin detailed how he approached the hatred of a rival legislator when he served in the Pennsylvania legislature in the 18th century. Franklin put it: “He that has once done you a Kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

Why Care?

When striving to create change, it can become necessary to make others like you to hear you out; the Ben Franklin effect is one way to achieve that. Whether or not you believe in this effect, the act of approaching someone and asking for a favor puts you in contact with that person. In turn, that creates an opportunity for you and the other person to engage and possibly begin a relationship. It is an important life skill to be able to influence how others perceive you but also to learn to approach others!

Think Further

  1. Now that you are familiar with the Ben Franklin effect, do you think you have utilized the effect to get someone to like you in the past?
  2. Can you think of a time in which you didn’t like someone but became friends with them after they asked for a favor? Explain.
  3. Do you think that it’s possible to create issues by asking for a favor from someone who doesn’t like you? Explain.

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Learn More

  1. McRaney, D. (2011). You Are Not So Smart: Why our memory is mostly fiction, why you have too many friends on Facebook, and 46 other ways you’re deluding yourself. S.l.: Oneworld Publications.
  2. McRaney, David (2011-10-05). “The Benjamin Franklin Effect”. You Are Not So Smart. You Are Not So Smart.
  3. Lebowitz, Shana. “Harness the power of the ‘Ben Franklin Effect’ to get someone to like you”. Business Insider. Business Insider Inc.