A Reflection on Persuasion

My presentation on persuasion addresses the “halo effect.” This means that we tend to enjoy an overly generous image of ourselves. This self image sometimes deludes us into a belief that we are always good or it serves to justify our actions that are “sub-par.”

So what can we do to persuade others to act in conformity with their self image? Give them a mirror. There are numerous studies that show that when we actually see ourselves we are more likely to conform to our positive self image. A manager in an employee stock room who is experiencing problems with theft can install a mirror to greatly reduce this loss.

An interesting study on the mirror effect was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. This study recorded trick or treaters at 18 different houses. The kids were shown a candy bowl and told to take only one piece. Then the owner abruptly left the kids alone. More than one third of the kids were seen taking more than a single piece of candy. However, when a mirror was attached to a wall so that the kids couild clearly see themselves, less than 10 % of the kids took an extra piece.

These thoughts are similar to research which shows that wearing a name tag makes us conform more closely with our self image. These are simple but effective ways to bring out the best in others.

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