charity girl: in sf, 5 homeless shelters were shut down or nearly shut down because of budget cuts...omar: mmm yes yescharity girl: [more details about the shutdown].. we are looking for donations.omar: no doubt.charity girl: $160 would support ...omar: i'm not giving that much!cg: you can give just $40 to support...omar: nope.cg: well, you could give even $5 and we'd mark your name here in this list with a $ sign, indicating that you gave.omar: thanks, but no thanks.
that's where it ended. now, the reason i couldn't stand this is because she was implementing a standard method, used before the dawn of time but outlined nicely by the psychologist robert cialdini. she was making me somewhat sympathetic, throwing out a wildly ridiculouslous number that few people would support based on a 2 minute explanation, and then reducing that number to something that sounds reasonable ($40, $5..) when compared to the ridiculous number ($160). i was immune to this tactic because i have read about it, and frankly feel that i need way more information before i'm giving these people any money.
so, i started to tell this story to a friend. turns out, this friend gave the same girl $40! oy. total affirmation of the technique. my friend was trying to justify it ("even if it's a rip off, the girl could use the money.. if not, the charity gets useful money," etc..) but the fact of the matter is it's almost certainly the case that my friend got manipulated, and didn't even know it. this is a friend who i think of as highly analytical, which i think is yet more proof that such an action was prompted by behavioral responses that were manipulated.