I sent this to my alumni group ...
I was standing on this traffic light when I saw a small kid tying Neembu-Mirchi to a bike. I had seen auto drivers and taxi drivers using Neembu Mirchi to drive away the bad spirits but a biker using Neembu Mirchi was something I hadnt even imagined!
Got curious, got down from the auto and stood there for some time. Realized that the Neembu Mirchi was done with all the bikers even though none of the bikers had originally asked for the thing to be put on the bike.
Classic Cialdini at play. The Neembu Mirchi is traditionally used to prevent something from "Buri Nazar". Everyone has seen it, everyone knows it and most of the people believe in it (for the record - I dont).
Since these were small kids, giving away Neembu Mirchi for free and helping you save yourself from "Buri Nazar". He is doing you a favour. You have this strong urgent of returning the favour. How do you do it ... ? Give Money! Saves you from the guilt of taking services from a kind hearted kid who is there to help you. Further, since the Neembu is tied up, you dont want to drive away with something from a starving kid without paying for the cost. PUSH selling .. :D
Wiping of windscreens on traffic lights, giving you a photograph of some god, now Neembu Mirchi - Reciprocation ! AND RELIGION (in last two cases) !
Prof. Bakshi replied
Yah Saurabh, I think you're right abt Cialdini's models at work here.
Actually, the road is a wonderful place to see psychology at work.
On Saturday's in Delhi, its common for beggars to put oil in containers with coins inside and approach you - you NEVER find a container without coins in them - social proof - others have given, so should you.
The eye-to-eye contact which the beggars are so eager to establish and ppl are most reluctant to have enforced on them is contrast effect as in "you're so rich, look at me, look at the contrast between us!"
When people accelerate their vehicles instead of slowing down when approaching a crossing and when the light has just turned from green to yellow - its deprival super reaction - most of us do this - we lose control of ourselves and our perception of risk goes for a toss when we see our chances of sailing through a crossing diminish by the second - total impairment of cognition... When ppl lose something or are almost about to lose something, they becoming willing to take huge gambles to avoid losing it - what you see on the road happens all the time in the casino and of course in the stock market...
Road rage is a function of reciprocation (retaliation is a form of reciprocation), and envy (sometimes).
Even clustering of "similar others" (social proof) takes place. If you hit a cyclist and he falls down and you stop, you can be sure that most pedestrians and cyclists who gather there will take his side - regardless of who was at fault, and most motorists who stop by will take your side - again regardless of who was at fault.
And when one sees someone obviously hurt lying on the street in pain and agony, one is reluctant to stop and help because no one is helping (social proof means we not just copy actions of others, but also their inactions), and our own personal calculations (let someone else do it).