Consistency: Is it always helpful?
Excruciatingly enlightening, thus I thought to share the following:
“Certainly, then, good personal consistency is highly valued in our culture. And well it should be. It provides us with a reasonable and gainful orientation to the world. Most of the time, we we will be better off if our approach to things is well laced with consistency. Without it our lives would be difficult, erratic and disjointed.
“But because it is so typically in our best interests to be consistent, we easily fall into the habit of being automatically so, even in situations where it is not the sensible way to be. When it occurs unthinkingly, consistency can be disastrous. Nevertheless, even blind consistency has its attractions.
First, like most other forms of automatic responding, if offers a shortcut through the density of modern life. Once we have made up our minds about an issue, stubborn consistency allows us a very appealing luxury: We really don’t have to think hard about the issue anymore. We don’t have to sift through the blizzard of information we encounter every day to identify relevant facts; we don’t have to expend the mental energy to weigh the pros and cons; we don’t have to make any further tough decisions. Instead, all we have to do when confronted with the issue is to turn on our consistency tape — whirr — and we know just what to believe, say, or do. We need only believe, say, or do whatever is consistent with our earlier decision.
The allure of such a luxury is not to be minimized. It allows us a convenient, relatively effortless, and efficient method for dealing with the complex daily environments that make severe demands on our mental energies and capacities. It is not hard to understand, then, why automatic consistency is a difficult reaction to curb. It offers us a way to evade the rigors of continuing thought. And as Sir Joshua Reynods, noted, “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.” With our consistency tapes operating, then we can go about our business happily excused from the toil of having to think too much.
There is a second, more perverse attraction of mechanical consistency as well. Sometimes it is not the effort of hard, congnitive work that makes us shirk thoughtful activity, but the harsh consequences of that activity. Sometimes it is the cursedly clear and unwelcome set of answers provided by straight thinking that makes us mental slackers. There are certain disturbing things we simply would rather not realize. Because it is a preprogrammed and mindless method of responding, automatic consistency can supply a safe hiding place from those troubling realizations. Sealed within the fortress walls of rigid consistency, we can be impervious to the sieges of reason.”
Excerpt from”The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
Oh boy. Been there. Done that. Anyone else??
Used car salesman cartoon found at: TexasEagle’s Photostream
This entry was posted on March 1, 2011 by Glezele Vayne. It was filed under Meandering Thoughts and was tagged with consistency, decision-making, Influence: Science and Practice, information, Robert Cialdini, Social proof, truth.