the story behind the ben franklin effect (1/2)

Making someone like you is a challenge especially if there are differences between you and that person. The tactics that most people use are compliments or buying stuff — as bribes — so that they can build a positive impression. But these can pose as fake and gimmicky and the lack of genuineness may negatively affect the interaction and the possibility of a relationship in future. Fortunately, there’s a better and easier alternative to make someone like you as well as to get your haters on your side. It may sound counterintuitive but when you ask someone a favor, that person ends up liking you more. This psychological phenomenon is called the Ben Franklin effect named after Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

The story behind how this phenomenon got its name is quite interesting. Apparently, Benjamin Franklin had a hating political rival. As the influence of that rival on the government could be useful to him in the future, he wanted to recruit this person on his side. In order to do that, he wrote to the man asking him if he could borrow a rare book from his library. The man, being a gentleman of ‘fortune and education’, obliged and lent him the book. Franklin sent the book back to him a week later with a Thank You note. The next time that their paths crossed, the rival was exceedingly warm to Franklin and sources say that the two stayed friends for life.

We often stress that when we ask someone a favor, he/she will find it annoying and end up liking us less. But instead, people develop a liking towards us when they do us a favor.

In his autobiography, Franklin wrote: “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”