THE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN EFFECT

If you want to turn a hater into a fan, just get them to do you a favor.

That’s what Benjamin Franklin did when he faced a powerful enemy while running for office in Philadelphia. Well known at the time as a collector of fine books, Franklin asked if his hater would lend him a copy of a “very scarce and curious book” Franklin had heard the hater owned. The man sent it right over, and Franklin returned it with a thank-you note. From that day forward, the opponent became a champion of Franklin and spoke well of him in public.

Psychologists speculate that thanks to cognitive dissonance and the insufficient justification effect, Benjamin Franklin’s rival faced great anxiety and mental anguish when explaining his behavior to himself. “Why did I do something nice for someone I don’t like?” he asked. To make himself feel consistent and sane, he decided that he must have liked Franklin after all.

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