Hi, My Name is Lisa
Surveys asking people to predict behavior are notoriously unreliable, but there’s other data showing the powerful impact of even a modest connection. In my book Brainfluence, I devote a chapter to “schmoozing.” One rather startling finding comes from a study performed by researcher Al Roth.
Roth used The Ultimatum Game, a clever experiment in which one subject must divide a small amount of money, say, $10, between himself and a second subject. If the second subject agrees with the split, both keep their share of the money. If the other person rejects the split, though, nobody gets any money. In its basic form, it shows that humans place a value on fairness. While a totally rational economist would accept even a mere $1 (since that’s better than the alternative of zero for a rejected offer), real people tend to reject splits that heavily favor the first subject. In fact, in the standard game only half of the offers are “fair” – arbitrarily defined as both subjects getting $4-6. About a third of the time, the deal is rejected and nobody gets any money.
Roth tried a variation on the standard game in which he let the subjects chat face to face for ten minutes before playing. This was pure socializing – they didn’t know the rules of the game they’d play, and there was no discussion of strategy. This simple bit of schmoozing had a dramatic impact on the game results. After the face to face chat, 83% of the deals were “fair,” and just 5% – one out of 20 – resulted in rejection and loss of money for both subjects.