Haters not gonna hate: Wisdoms from Benjamin Franklin

“He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”


The Benjamin Franklin Effect – an odd psychological phenomenon that causes us to like someone more after doing the person a favor. In this sense, we tend to like people for whom we do nice things and dislike those to whom we do bad things. The effect is named after a specific incident happened in founding father Benjamin Franklin’s life. The answer to how and why this actually happens is precisely noted in his autobiography.

In 1736, Franklin was being chosen clerk of the General Assembly of the Junto – a club founded by Benjamin Franklin and a group of friends who met on a regular basis to discuss issues of politics, morals and natural philosophy. But the following year, when he was again proposed, a new member made a long speech against him, in order to favor another candidate. Franklin did not like the opposition of this new member and decided to win him over. He notes:

“I did not, however, aim at gaining his favor by paying any servile respect to him, but, after some time, took this other method. Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favor of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I returned it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favor. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.”

Indeed, Franklin observes this as an instance of an old maxim and he adds:

“He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

Benjamin Franklin was born in Milk Street, Boston, on January 6, 1706, entering this world as one of seventeen children to poor parents; he died on April 17, 1790, as a scholar, scientist, gentleman, musician, printer, entrepreneur and, perhaps most of all, as a champion of American independence. Franklin developed supreme personality by cultivating personal virtues and has become one of the most celebrated figures in American history. Written between 1717 and 1790, the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is regarded as the pioneering example of the genre, and it is indeed a rewarding read. Complement it with Benjamin Franklin’s quest for virtues bound by the to-do list.


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