An effective method of gaining compliance from a random group of people was demonstrated by Gueguen and Pascual, which they go on to describe in their thesis in a 2002 publication of a well-known psychology magazine. One of their experiments basically involved them walking up to individuals roaming all by themselves in a shopping mall. And they would ask the person if he had a few coins to spare for a bus ride. Immediately thereafter, it would be followed up with a statement, “But you are free to accept or refuse”.
The findings of the experiment showed that under controlled conditions, the subject was twice more likely to accept the request. This is what BYAF or But, You Are Free technique is about. This is in fact a confirmation of ‘Psychological Reactance theory’ which was proposed way back in 1966. The theory goes to define how a person harbors natural perception about his or her freedom to say ‘no’. Therefore, by offering him or her a choice to refuse reduces the perceived threat to said freedom, and thus enables the person to confirm more readily.
This was an example of one study, whereas a total of 42 studies have been done on the BYAF technique of compliance gathering. And a meta-analysis reveals that it is indeed an effective means of gaining compliance, regardless of the type of request made. However, the effectiveness of compliance reduces when the decision to enact upon the target’s behavior was not done immediately.
The effects of the BYAF technique have been extensively used in fund raising events and call to action circulars over the years. With fund raisers, the main requirement is for somebody to donate funds for a cause that he or she may not hold dear. However, by utilizing the BYAF technique effectively, the chances of donation increase drastically. Furthermore, the BYAF technique is much simpler and elemental in its execution as it requires timing and understanding of the target audience more than anything else.
Have you ever found yourself searching for information or even interpreting a certain data in a way that confirms your stand on a certain subject? If so, then you have indulged in what psychologists term as confirmation or ‘conformity bias’.
The weird thing about confirmation bias is that it starts from a logical place, in that you actually begin searching and analyzing information in a scientific manner. Thus, it is a form of inductive reasoning, where you search for evidences to base your conclusion.
Evan K Roberts from Twiddy.com, explains this as follows: “The ‘error’ in reasoning occurs when your brain begins to filter information, favor some data while disregarding others with the sole purpose of adding weight to your argument, thus leading up to a conformity bias.”
Studies done about conformity bias show how its applied in real-life scenarios and discussions to mask other logical errors. Lets look at three such examples.
- Consider a discussion that you may be having with a colleague, friend, spouse or relative. In the course of this discussion, your point of inferences have been shown to be incorrect. However, you still persist with your belief despite all the evidence that has been shown to you. Such a situation is what experts term as belief perseverance.
- Another scenario where you and another person are presented with the same evidence. However, both of you are in disagreement over how it should be interpreted. It is something that happens a lot with statistical studies, where the numbers get interpreted in two or more different ways. This is what is known as attitude polarization.
- Sometimes, there can occur an error in misreading the connection or the lack of it between two situations or events. This too then gives rise to a perception of your analysis being right since you have two or more events which point in that direction. Such an error in perception is known as illusory correlation.
There can be many such scenarios but a common breeding ground for conformity bias is emotionally charged scenarios or arguments that have to do with one party’s deeply entrenched beliefs.