How To Make People Like You With The Benjamin Franklin Effect

When you want to make someone like you, what do you do? Compliment them? Buy them dinner? One of the best ways to win someone over is to ask a favor of them. It's called the Benjamin Franklin Effect.

Can I Ask You A Favor?

Though we think that our actions take a certain progression — we want to do things and then do them — it's often the opposite: we see ourselves doing something, and only later do we come up with a reason to justify why we did it. This backward way of gaining someone's admiration is known as the Benjamin Franklin effect. It's named for the way the founding father once used this principle when he encountered a bitter political rival. Because the rival's admiration would be useful to him in the future, Franklin wrote to the man asking to borrow a certain rare book from his library. The rival obliged, and Franklin sent the book back a week later with a thank-you note. The next time the two men saw each other, the rival approached Franklin and spoke to him in person for the very first time. The two stayed friends for life. As Franklin wrote in his autobiography, "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged." In the book-lending scenario, the rival saw himself doing Franklin a favor, and rationalized his actions: you do favors for people you like, so he must like Franklin after all.

Putting It To Good Use

It's easy to see where this knowledge might come in handy. When you need to win over a coworker, for example, or an in-law. So the next time you try to endear yourself to the colleague who just hasn't warmed up to you, forget bending over backwards to help him out. Instead, ask him for something. It might be just the trick you needed.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. The more work you put toward someone, the more invested you are in them, and the more you like them. This is known as the Benjamin Franklin Effect. 00:37

  2. Here are the results of the experiment. 04:49

  3. Whether you're trying to get into a relationship or deep into a long-term one, give your partner a chance to contribute to it. 05:16

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Written By
Ashley Hamer
June 16, 2016