People Need to Reciprocate

A while back I wrote about Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence. Today I’m going to share a little more.

The rule of reciprocation states that we feel a duty to settle others in kind for whatever they have supplied to us. For it enabled our ancestors to share resources, safe in the knowledge that they would be reciprocated after this inclination forms the foundation of all societies.

If a person does us a favor and it is not returned by us, we feel an emotional weight. This is partially because, as a society, we’re disdainful of those who don’t reciprocate favors. We fear being labeled as such ourselves, and label them as ingrates or moochers.

Several experiments have demonstrated that folks are really so fantastic to rid themselves of this burden of debt that they’ll perform much bigger favors for small ones.

When they gifted flowers to passersby on the street, the Krishna organization used this approach. Though typically annoyed, folks regularly made donations to the business to meet their need to reciprocate the bloom.


A Hare Krishna walking down the street. Taken from stock photo site. Learn how to take a screenshot on a Mac.

To fight back against efforts to benefit from the rule of reciprocation, you CAn’t reject as you would rapidly become a cranky hermit all favors. Instead, identify for what they basically are, whether genuine party favors or violent exploitation approaches, and simply then reciprocate in kind, offers.

Individuals have an overpowering must reciprocate favors.

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