Creative ideas, Design thoughts, inspiration

Commitment & Consistency

As humans, we have an insatiable desire for consistency in our behaviour. It’s why we hate hypocrisy and embrace leaders, politicians and beliefs that “stick to their guns,” sometimes to the point of foolishness. This consistency can be observed through the effectiveness of political tactics like push polling, wherein a paid “surveyor” will call numbers and ask voters whether they’d cast a ballot for “a man who refused to say the pledge of allegiance,” thus getting a response and commitment verbally that will transfer into votes come election day after the follow-on ad campaign alludes to precisely that inaction from an opposition candidate.

For example: Researchers on a New York City beach staged thefts to see if onlookers would risk personal harm to stop the “criminal.” A research accomplice would listen to music on a blanket near their “test subjects” and after several minutes, stand up and stroll away, leaving a personal radio on the blanket. A “thief” would then approach, grab the radio, and attempt to hurry away with it. On average, only 4 in 20 bystanders would intervene.

However, when the experiment was changed slightly, the results altered dramatically. In this second scenario, before strolling away, the research accomplice would ask the test subject to “watch my things.” Now, under the influence of consistency and commitment, 19 of 20 subjects became “virtual vigilantes, running after and stopping the thief, demanding an explanation, often restraining the thief physically or snatching the radio away.”

Commitment and consistency can’t happen without that initial action of a response or promise. It should be noted that this power increases tremendously if the agreement is written, rather than merely verbal. E.g. last week, you told us you wanted XYZ… Guess what? Here it is!

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