Specifically, we’re going to talk about the principle of reciprocation.

You do something for me, and I feel that I have an obligation to you. We’re going to talk more about how you can use that for your marketing, promoting your business, your products and services, and encouraging someone to promote a positive behavior.

This is the second video and our discussion of Robert Cialdini’s book titled ‘Influence’. There are six main principles. In the previous video, we discussed an overview of the book as well as talked about his first principle which is commitment and consistency.

The second principle from his book is reciprocation. This is an extremely powerful obligation that is enacted when someone feels that they have a certain obligation owed to someone because someone has done something for them. Perhaps they have helped them out in some way and until that debt has been repaid, there is a feeling that there is a certain level of obligation to that other person.


Reciprocity is in-kind positively or negatively connotated responses of individuals towards the actions of others. Photo credit: www.training-southwest.co.uk


In terms of helping someone change their behavior or for marketing, this is from a marketing perspective, perhaps this is used in terms of “free gift” that someone is given but the idea is that it’s actually given with the idea that they’re going to enact the reciprocation obligation and that someone is going to feel that there is an obligation to return the favor and perhaps make a purchase from that business.

In a personal level, a good example is when someone helps you move. There is an obligation that is established and there’s a feeling that you need to do something to return that.


When someone helps you there’s a feeling that you need to do something in return. . Photo credt: jameystegmaier.com

This can be an extremely powerful tool when you’re helping someone change their behavior. Especially in terms of for starting the exchange and it allows you to control offering someone something to enact the feeling of an obligation so that they can return the favor. An example that’s quoted in the book is that Ethiopia sent $5000 in aid to Mexico in 1985 when Mexico suffered an earthquake and this is at a time when Ethiopia could potentially have been considered one of the worst off countries in the world. They were going through famine, Civil War, there was a lot of things going on and yet Ethiopia still felt that there was an obligation for them to send money to Mexico. Robert goes back through history and he ties this in to an obligation that he feels was enacted in 1935, 50 years earlier when Mexico came to Ethiopia’s aid and for 50 years, Ethiopia felt that they had an obligation to return the favor for Mexico. They decided in 1985, when Mexico suffered earthquake, that it was time for them to help them out and return the favor.



In dealing products, they usually start off at a very high price and they will reduce the price. Photo credit: www.wisegeek.com

But it’s not just in terms of repaying a debt obligation for somebody that has done something for you. There’s also in terms of reciprocal concession when someone has made you an offer and you turn it down and they reduce the offer or reduce the price, there is a feeling of a level of obligation because you feel that that other person has made some kind concession for you and that can be extremely powerful for someone who is trying to sell something to you or help you change your behavior.

You can use an example of when you’re purchasing a car. They’ll start off at a very high price and they will reduce the price, perhaps add on an additional features to make it more attractive. Each time what they’re doing is they’re enacting the reciprocal concessions and making concessions in your direction to make it look like they are moving towards giving you a better deal and that they are moving from their position so there’s a certain level of obligation on your part to feel like they have done enough to satisfy your desire to fulfill the obligation. And you have a certain sense of responsibility and ownership for the new concession because you have played a role in deciding whether or not it was something that match your needs. Perhaps you’ve given feedback on the option that you want included. So you have negotiated a package and because you’ve moved from something higher, down to a lower price, potentially with added features, you’re more likely to accept that deal than if that was the original deal that you were presented with in the first place. There was no reciprocal concession in place. You don’t feel like someone has moved in your direction.

So there’s a lot of factors that can be enacted when someone is trying to give you something and have some kind of concession in a certain level of an obligation and you are more likely to accept their offer.