YANSS Podcast 018 – How Benjamin Franklin dealt with haters

The Topic: The Benjamin Franklin Effect

The Episode: Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud


Benjamin Franklin knew how to deal with haters, and in this episode we learn how he turned his haters into fans with what is now called The Benjamin Franklin Effect (read more about the effect here).

Listen as David McRaney reads an excerpt from his book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” explaining the psychology behind the effect and how the act of spreading harm forms the attitude of hate, and the act of spreading kindness generates the attitude of camaraderie.


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  • Batson, C. Daniel, Diane Kobrynowicz, Jessica L. Dinnerstein, Hannah C. Kampf, et al. “In a Very Different Voice: Unmasking Moral Hypocrisy.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 72, no. 6 (1997): 1335–348.
  • Cacioppo, John T., Joseph R. Priester, and Gary G. Berntson. “Rudimentary Determinants of Attitudes: II. Arm Flexion and Extension Have Differential Effects on Attitudes.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65, no. 1 (1993): 5–17.
  • Festinger, Leon, and James M. Carlsmith.“Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance.” Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 58, no. 2 (1959): 203–10.
  • Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Ed. Frank Woodworth Pine. Garden City, NY: Garden City Pub., 1916.
  • Jecker, Jon, and David Landy. “Liking a Person as a Function of Doing Him a Favour.” Human Relations 22, no. 4 (1969): 371–78.
  • Myers, D. G. Social Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005. Schopler, John, and John S. Compere. “Effects of Being Kind or Harsh to Another on Liking.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 20, no. 2 (1971): 155–59.
  • Tavris, Carol, and Elliot Aronson. Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2007.
  • Wicker, Allan W. “Attitudes Versus Actions: The Relationship of Verbal and Overt Behavioral Responses to Attitude Objects.” Journal of Social Issues 25, no. 4 (1969): 41–78.
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The Benjamin Franklin Effect

The Misconception: You do nice things for the people you like and bad things to the people you hate.

The Truth: You grow to like people for whom you do nice things and hate people you harm.

Benjamin Franklin knew how to deal with haters.

Born in 1706 as the eighth of 17 children to a Massachusetts soap and candlestick maker, the chances Benjamin would go on to become a gentleman, scholar, scientist, statesman, musician, author, publisher and all-around general bad-ass were astronomically low, yet he did just that and more because he was a master of the game of personal politics.

Like many people full of drive and intelligence born into a low station, Franklin developed strong people skills and social powers. All else denied, the analytical mind will pick apart behavior, and Franklin became adroit at human relations. From an early age, he was a talker and a schemer – a man capable of guile, cunning and persuasive charm. He stockpiled a cache of cajolative secret weapons, one of which was the Benjamin Franklin Effect, a tool as useful today as it was in the 1730s and still just as counterintuitive. To understand it, let’s first rewind back to 1706.

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