What is the Ben Franklin effect?

Posted by Pat on September 10, 2017 in Uncategorized |

You may know a lot about Benjamin Franklin-for example, that he invented bifocals, graces the $100 bill, and experimented on electricity with a kite and a key.

But you may never have heard of the Ben Franklin effect that was even cited in Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

In a nutshell:

The Misconception: You do nice things for the people you like and bad things to the people you hate.

The Truth: You grow to like people for whom you do nice things and hate people you harm.

The things we do often create the things we believe. And so it is with others.

In his autobiography, Ben quoted what he described as an “old maxim”

He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

Dale Carnegie in his book interprets the request for a favor as “a subtle but effective form of flattery.”


So what does this mean for us?


If asking for a favor is a way of signalling that we consider someone to have something we don’t, then it’s a way of showing admiration and respect. People like to be admired and respected.

When we grant someone a favor, we start to like them better, perhaps because we enjoy the admiration and respect they have shown to us.

(I guess it’s another way that life’s “Law of Reciprocity” works!)

What do YOU think?

Is this just a sideways look at our relationships?

Is there a way that this could be misused?

Have you ever experienced Ben Franklin’s effect?





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