March 6, 2019

Grooving on Reciprocity

This is the second episode in a series on the 6 Principles of Persuasion as identified by Robert Cialdini, PhD, in his 1984 book, Influence. (The first episode in the series was on consistency – with the link below.) In this grooving session, Kurt and Tim discuss reciprocity, the first principle of influence, its roots and how it shows up in our world today.

Reciprocity is when we feel obliged to give back to people who have given to us. The operative word is given, to differentiate the experience from a contractual exchange like a loan or a quid pro quo. Reciprocity shows up not only in what we do but also how we do it. A great example is a study conducted by Cialdini, et. al, to measure how leaving a mint with a restaurant bill makes a difference in the size of the tip left for the server. The results are remarkable – but you’ll have to listen to find out what’s even more fascinating in this study.

We talk about reciprocity as a social construct and a social obligation to keep our social credit strong. We talk about its roots in anthropological terms and how the humans need communities to survive and reciprocity helps maintain the community.

We hope you enjoy this grooving session on one of our favorite topics: reciprocity.


Episode on Consistency:

Cialdini’s HBR article on harnessing the power of persuasion:

Cialdini’s principles:

Link to Influence:!/Paperbacks/c/2254134/offset=0&sort=normal

Social Construct and Retaliation:

Obligation principle:


Kurt Nelson, PhD: or Twitter @motivationguru 

Tim Houlihan: or Twitter @THoulihan


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