Being of the skeptical mindset has saves me a lot of money over the years. Besides helping me avoid throwing dollars at bogus products and unnecessary services, when the price is negotiable, I tend to get a better one. And it’s not because I’m a skilled negotiator. I’m not. It’s because when salespeople see I’m not buying their song and dance, they tend to focus on the price. Okay, you can’t see how fantastic this is, so I’ll give you a bargain!
Once, at a car dealership I had stopped by to test drive a used car listed online, I severely befuddled a manager. He pushed the salesperson aside and dropped the price substantially. I said “no thanks.” He could hardly believe it. I had already communicated I really liked the car, thought is was in great condition, and the price seemed okay.
“Why won’t you buy it?” He asked. I told him that it wasn’t the car I came in to look at — the sales person had talked me into test driving another make and model, after having driven the unsatisfactory first. I hadn’t done any research on the second car. The manager dropped another two thousand dollars off the price, a price that had started at eight thousand. That caught my interest. But I said, “I still haven’t done any research on it.” At near wits end, the dealership sales manager let me use his desktop computer. I did, checking out the title history, blue book value, safety ratings and reliability reports. The car checked out. Sale was made. I got a real bargain on a car that fit my needs. A nice car. But it was just a car.
I wonder if some people are by nature more or less gullible, and/or easy to be persuaded by a good sales pitch. Is it akin to a personality trait that can be exaggerated or attenuated by experience? A recent bit of research got me thinking about it.
In news about a study — found at ScienceDaily.com — linking genes and learning styles, I encountered this somewhat science-language-heavy but fascinating information:
In their experiment, the researchers studied people with and without genetic variations that affected the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the PFC and striatum. A variation in a gene called COMT that affects dopamine in the PFC, for example, helps people remember and work with advice.
People with a variation on the gene DARPP-32 that affects the response to dopamine in the stratium allowed people to learn more quickly from experience when no advice was given, but also made them more readily impressionable to the bias of the PFC when instruction was given. Like a “yes man” who is flexible to a fault, the striatum would give more weight to experiences that reinforced the PFC’s belief, and less weight to experiences that contradicted it. Researchers call this confirmation bias, which is ubiquitous across many domains, such as astrology, politics, and even science. [source, emphasis added]
While any lasting meaning of this study is undetermined, and the research was only indirectly about persuade-ability and possibly gullibility, I have a hunch it provides a piece to the puzzle. A very complicated puzzle. I think. But I’m not sure.
If anyone were to draw a hard-and-fast conclusion from the above, my response would be: “I ain’t buying it.” Still not enough research.