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Mental Shortcuts

We’re living in an increasingly complex environment, so we rely on stereotypes, rule of thumbs, and heuristics to classify things based on some key features, and then responding without much thinking.

This automatic behavior is what can be influenced using certain way.

This is done to save mental energy, especially for things that won’t affect our life so much. We will think more critically only when it’s personal.


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“We resist the seductive luxury of registering and reacting to just a single (trigger) feature of the available information when an issue is important to us.”



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Contrast Principle

If we see something that is fairly different from the first one we saw earlier, we tend to see it more different than it actually is.

If we buy a car, then buying car accessories feels cheaper than it is cause we have just made such a big purchase.

Showing someone unattractive options before showing the real one can make it much more attractive than it is.


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The rule says that we should try to repay what another person has provided us.

So, to get someone to do something for us, we should do a favor for him/her first.

This rule is established in society to promote socially beneficial cooperation.

Someone who violates the rule, by accepting but not making any attempt to return, will be disliked by society.


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“The rule of reciprocation was so strong it simply overwhelmed the influence of a factor—liking for the requester—that normally affects the decision to comply.”



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Rejection Then Retreat

To increase the chance someone will comply to our request is by making a large request, one that will be turned down. Then, after he/she refuses, make the smaller request that we’re really interested all along.

The second offer seems lika a concession which makes him/her feel inclined to make his/her concession as well by accepting the offer.

The side effect of this technique in a negotiation is also good for us because the other party will feel they “dictated” the final agreement and so they will feel more responsible for and live up the terms in the contract.


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People are more influenced by someone they like, such as friends or celebrities. This is simple truth.

What is less known is that this simple liking rule can apply to any individual we’ve never met before.

We can increase the likelihood for our offer to be accepted by making someone like us more first. There are many ways to do it.


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Why People Like Us

There are several reasons that can make people like us:

  1. Physical attractiveness: we like good looking individuals
  2. Similarity: we like people who are like us
  3. Compliments: we like people who praise us
  4. Contact: we like people who are familiar to us
  5. Cooperation: we like people who work together with us towards a goal
  6. Association: we like people who gives pleasant feeling


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Curious about different takes? Check out our book page to explore multiple unique summaries written by Deepstash curators:

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