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Influence by Robert B. Cialdini

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Chapter 4

SOCIAL PROOF

Truths Are Us

Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.

—WALTER LIPPMANN

I DON’T KNOW ANYONE WHO LIKES CANNED LAUGHTER. IN FACT, when I surveyed the people who came into my office one day—several students, two telephone repairmen, a number of university professors, and the janitor—the reaction was invariably critical. Television, with its incessant system of laugh tracks and technically augmented mirth, received the most heat. The people I questioned hated canned laughter. They called it stupid, phony, and obvious. Although my sample was small, I would bet that it closely reflects the negative feelings of most of the American public toward laugh tracks.

Why, then, is canned laughter so popular with television ...

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