Earned versus coercive loyalty

When we accept someone's authority over us, we know instinctively they expect us to be loyal. This type of loyalty becomes coercive if we expect punishment for being disloyal. Loyalty based on fear toward someone who has power over us probably needs a different name. 

Vox: The problem with Trump's idea of loyalty, explained by psychologists, 2017-Jun-8 by Julia Belluz and Brian Resnick

David DeSteno, a psychology professor as Northeastern, explained that there are a couple of methods people can use to build loyalty and trust.

One is, you meet someone, work with them, and learn about whether they’re going to have integrity and cooperate with you, DeSteno said. “Trust is a bet that a person is going to hold up his end of the bargain — accept some short-term cost for longer-term gain.”

Psychological studies show this pattern often holds in human relationships. We grant power to those who are empathetic, and those who look out for the greater good. A more Machiavellian approach works, too, but it can be off-putting. “People intuitively recoil against people who look as though they will exploit others, the social collective, and undermine the greater good,” Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkley psychologist who studies power, says. “I see Comey's actions as in part guided by this intuitive tendency.“

The other way to build trust is less effective: You demand or ask for it, as Trump does. This normally doesn’t work, except for in relationships with a power differential.


Manipulation by loyalty

Before we decide to be loyal to any person or institution we have to consider our values for possible conflicts. Once we've sacrificed our integrity, how will we be able to get it back? 

Bloomberg: Why Trump's Staff is Lying, 2017-Jan-23 by Tyler Cowen

Another reason for promoting lying is what economists sometimes call loyalty filters. If you want to ascertain if someone is truly loyal to you, ask them to do something outrageous or stupid. If they balk, then you know right away they aren’t fully with you. That too is a sign of incipient mistrust within the ruling clique, and it is part of the same worldview that leads Trump to rely so heavily on family members.

In this view, loyalty tests are especially frequent for new hires and at the beginning of new regimes, when the least is known about the propensities of subordinates.


To create loyalty, you must first be memorable

To create customer loyalty, we have to provide good experiences, but it's even more important to provide memorable ones. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman explains that we form our memories based on the peak and the end of the event. Even if the peak was agonizing, the happy ending can cement customer loyalty. But really, it's more reliable to have a good peak and a good ending together. 

To help people appreciate a room or a building, architects want to provide not only a pleasing or exciting total experience, but an emotional peak, a surprising recognition of an exceptional detail. With its extraordinary handling of the wood in walls, doors and custom-made furnishings, Brochsteins supplies that experience, earning the undying loyalty of both architects and their customers. 

Houston Chronicle: Woodworking company still solid after 80 years, 2015-Oct-30 by Miles Kruppa

Large commercial clients commission Brochsteins when they want to create signature styles that clients and customers will remember, [Brochsteins president Steven] Hecht said.

Image from Barn Images,