The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


What Is 'Reciprocation'? (Psychology)

Reciprocation is the desire most people feel to "pay back" for what they received. This is one of the most powerful psychological tendencies underlying human cooperation.

The desire to reciprocate is not necessarily in proportion to the benefit provided.

The more value you can provide upfront, the more likely it is that people will feel the need to reciprocate.

Being generous is one of the best things you can do to build your Reputation and to improve your results as a salesperson.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Reciprocation'

Reciprocation is the strong desire most people feel to "pay back" favors, gifts, benefits, and resources provided. If you've ever had the experience of receiving a holiday gift from someone you didn't send anything to, you know how uncomfortable this feels. If someone benefits us, we like to benefit them in return.

As a social force, Reciprocation is one of the psychological tendencies that underlie human cooperation. The "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" instinct is extremely powerful, and forms the foundation of friendships and alliances. Historically, gift-giving was how the powerful remained in Power: by throwing lavish parties or awarding titles and land, leaders increased their influence by amassing a store of favors that could be called in during times of need.

Here's the tricky part: the desire to reciprocate is not necessarily in proportion to the original benefit provided. In Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini provides an example of reciprocation in car sales. Car salesmen typically offer prospects a small gift up front.

"Can I get you a coffee? Would you like a soda? Some water? Cookies? Is there anything that I can do to make you more comfortable?"

It seems like a simple gesture of hospitality. It's not. Accepting this small offer creates a psychological need to reciprocate, subtly stacking the deck in the salesman's favor. Prospective car buyers who accepted this free offer were far more likely to purchase a vehicle, add optional accessories, and agree to less attractive financing terms.

As a result, these customers spent thousands of dollars more than the people who did not accept anything from the salesman while negotiating. That doesn't make rational sense, because the coffee or cookies only cost the dealer very little, but Reciprocation makes it more likely the buyer will "pay back" the favor with a much larger concession.

The more legitimate value you can provide to others up-front, the more receptive they'll be when it's time for your pitch. Providing Free value builds your social capital, making it more likely the people you benefit will reciprocate when you make an offer down the road.

Being generous is one of the best things you can do to improve your results as a salesperson. By giving away value and helping others as much as you can, they'll respect you, it will build your reputation, but it will also increase the probability that they will be interested enough when you DO present your Call-To-Action.

Questions About 'Reciprocation'


"Gifts are never free: they bind the giver and receiver in a loop of reciprocity."

Marcel Mauss, sociologist and anthropologist


From Chapter 3:

Sales


https://personalmba.com/reciprocation/



WANT TO BE NOTIFIED WHEN UPDATES ARE PUBLISHED? Subscribe to Josh Kaufman's email newsletter. You'll receive Personal MBA updates, Josh's award-winning research, and useful resources that will help you make more money, get more done, and have more fun. It's free!

The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

More about Josh Kaufman →