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be able to do it because we’ve got enough evidence right now. And he’sright about the D.A.’s office going hard on guys who don’t cooperate.You’re looking at five years, man, five years! Now, I don’t want to seethat happen to you. So if you admit you robbed that place right now,before he gets back, I’ll take charge of your case and put in a good wordfor you to the D.A. If we work together on this, we can cut that fiveyears down to two, maybe one. Do us both a favor, Kenny. Just tell mehow you did it, and then let’s start working on getting you throughthis.” A full confession frequently follows.Good Cop/Bad Cop works as well as it does for several reasons: TheRobert B. Cialdini Ph.D / 141
fear of long incarceration is quickly instilled by Bad Cop’s threats; theperceptual contrast principle ensures that compared to the raving,venomous Bad Cop, the interrogator playing Good Cop will seem likean especiallyreasonable and kind man; and because Good Cop has in-tervened repeatedly on the suspect’s behalf—has even spent his ownmoney for a cup of coffee—the reciprocity rule pressures for a returnfavor. The big reason that the technique is effective, though, is that itgives the suspect the idea that there is someone on his side, someonewith his welfare in mind, someone working together with him, for him.In most situations, such a person would be viewed very favorably, butin the deep trouble our robbery suspect finds himself, that person takeson the character of a savior. And from savior, it is but a short step totrusted father confessor.Conditioning and Association“Why do they blame me, Doc?” It was the shaky telephone voice of alocal TV weatherman. He had been given my number when he calledthe psychology department at my university to find someone who couldanswer his question—a question that had always puzzled him but hadrecently begun to bother and depress him.“I mean, it’s crazy, isn’t it? Everybody knows that I just report theweather, that I don’t order it, right? So how come I get so much flakwhen the weather’s bad? During the floods last year, I got hate mail!One guy threatened to shoot me if it didn’t stop raining. Christ, I’m stilllooking over my shoulder from that one. And the people I work withat the station do it, too! Sometimes, right on the air, they’ll zing meabout a heat wave or something. They have to know that I’m not re-sponsible, but that doesn’t seem to stop them. Can you help me under-stand this, Doc? It’s really getting me down.”We made an appointment to talk in my office, where I tried to explainthat he was the victim of an age-old click, whirrresponse that peoplehave to things they perceive as merely connected to one another. In-stances of this response abound in modern life. But I felt that the ex-ample most likely to help the distressed weatherman would require abit of ancient history. I asked him to consider the precarious fate of theimperial messengers of old Persia. Any such messenger assigned therole of military courier had special cause to hope mightily for Persianbattlefield successes. With news of victory in his pouch, he would be