Have you ever felt compelled to say yes when you really wanted to say no? Or maybe you have found yourself changing your mind in the middle of a purchase because you have felt pressured to follow a different decision than the one you had made? Psychologists refer to this as the rule of engagement or the rule of engagement. What exactly is the rule of engagement and how does it affect our behavior?
What is the standard of engagement?
The rule of engagement is a type of social norm that sellers often use to encourage consumers to make purchases even if they don’t want to. According to this rule, we usually feel compelled to move forward with something after we have made a public commitment … even if deep down we don’t want to do it.
Once we’ve made some kind of open commitment to something, we feel that both social pressure and internal psychological pressure cling to it. Why? We like to feel that we are consistent in our behaviors and beliefs, so once we make some kind of statement, we often feel like we should support our original decision.
Sometimes this standard of engagement can work in your favor. If you advertise that you are on a diet or trying to get in shape, announcing your plans to friends and family may help you feel pressured to make the commitment and reach your goals. In other cases, this pressure to stick to your original statement could lead him to make purchasing decisions that may not necessarily be in his best interest.
The standard of engagement in action
Sellers use this rule to their advantage because there are rules of persuasion that rely on this rule of engagement to get people to comply as consumers. Sellers don’t think about whether or not you want the product, they just want to convince and persuade you to buy. They will try to get you to commit in some way so that you finally buy it and shell out your money.
One of these is commonly known as ‘the low ball technique’. In this method, the seller may begin by intentionally underestimating the cost of the item. Once you have committed to making the purchase, the seller will increase the cost of the same item. Since you’ve already committed, you feel compelled to go ahead with the purchase … even if you feel cheated.
The power of commitment to your benefit
The power of commitment can sometimes make you make decisions that are not suitable for you or your interest, such as buying something much more expensive and spending more money than you had planned to spend according to your initial budget. Although the power of commitment, once you know it and know how it works, you can also use it to your advantage to achieve better things.
In fact, you might even find that you can use the rule of engagement to help inspire positive changes in your own or others’ behavior. For example, imagine that you are trying to accomplish a goal like quitting smoking, losing weight, or running a marathon. Making some kind of public statement about your goals, such as announcing it to your friends and family, can make you feel pressured to follow it and achieve your goals, it can cause a lot of motivation and boost your perseverance. Since you’ve told your friends and family that you want to achieve that goal, the rule of engagement will help you feel pressured to achieve your goal, even if it’s slowly but surely.
In the case of not achieving that goal that you think is important to you, you may feel some frustration or feelings of failure that make you feel even worse. Just by not feeling these negative emotions, it is likely that you still continue to insist on your goals to achieve them and thus, feel personal satisfaction.