Humans, Computers, & The Reciprocity Effect
Excerpts(via Dan Simmons @ Invisible Gorilla Blog)
Reto Schneider has a great post about a study by Youngme Moon. The study took advantage of the well-known reciprocity effect. People are more likely to provide information, money, assistance, etc. to someone who has helped them. The reciprocity effect is central to many methods of persuasion. If you do someone a favor, even a small one, they will feel pressure to reciprocate. That’s why fundraisers often send you “free” return address labels — they hope that reciprocity will lead you to make a donation that far exceeds the cost of the labels (which you never wanted in the first place).
People were much more likely to reveal personal details about themselves when they were responding to the computer’s revelation. By revealing something about itself, the computer led people to reciprocate. What’s most interesting about this case is that people were affected by the reciprocity effect even though they weren’t interacting with another person — they’re responding to questions on a survey.