No.9 of 36 - The Ben Franklin Effect

No.9 of 36 - The Ben Franklin Effect

There's a psychological phenomenon commonly known as the "Ben Franklin Effect" that explains why people like you more when they do you a favour.

Asking someone to do you a favour can be stressful, but it's also a powerful tool in manipulating a person's emotions and feelings towards someone or something.

The Ben Franklin Effect in Use

Brands and retailers can use the Ben Franklin effect to build customer loyalty.

While shoppers tend to think that they have neat logical reasons for the purchase decisions they make, this is simply not true: instead, they make purchase decisions for reasons that are complex, instinctive, and often somewhat arbitrary. Then, they devise logical justifications to retroactively explain our behaviour.

The Ben Franklin Effect in ecommerce

Particularly in the ecommerce world, there are so many possible touchpoints that it’s easy to create opportunities to ask minor favours. Request something simple, like feedback – But be sure to make providing feedback as easy as possible

Thanking providers

Thank favour providers - Once someone has done you a favour, it’s vital that you follow up in a way that also furthers their retroactive justification. For instance, say that their favour was “incredibly generous” and talk about how much you appreciate it. Build off that favour when asking for another.

Reciprocate favours

We like to think that we’re consistent with how we behave and make decisions, so if we’re asked for a favour by someone we certainly did a favour for before, we’ll view it as making a lot of sense. To do otherwise would be to threaten the integrity of the face-saving explanation for the first favour. As such, every time you convince someone to do you a favour, it will add to their conviction that they liked you all along.

How to deploy the Ben Franklin Effect

Use the Ben Franklin effect to develop a solid selection of loyal customers ready and willing to do you favours for nothing more than the occasional incentive. Escalate those incentives and you can start turning them into influential brand advocates.

The Ben Franklin Effect is no.9 of a series of 36 cognitive biases at play. Check out no.10 - Choice Supportive Bias.

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About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

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Phillip Adcock

Phillip Adcock CMRS
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

Phillips Signature

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