Summary of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Summary of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is a book by Robert B. Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University. In it, he teaches the readers the seven tricks which exploiters use to their advantage in everyday situations to get their ‘prey’ to accede to their requests. Prior to reading this book, I did not think that I fall victim to such tricks easily. However, Robert B. Cialdini has proved me wrong time and time again how easy it is to fall for them as he explains to us in the following chapters.

READ: Book Review on Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

1. Weapons of Influence

Weapons of influence are fixed action patterns or stereotypes. Robert B. Cialdini has discovered that humans and animals blindly follow a fixed action pattern without thinking much. For example, we associate expensive items with high-quality products and items are cheaper with coupons.

When we ask someone to do us a favour, we will be more successful if we provide a reason.

When promoting or selling an item, promote the most expensive items first so that the other items will be seemingly cheaper. When selling a house, show the prospective clients a ‘setup’ i.e. a lousier house so that the actual house you are selling looks so much more attractive in comparison.

2. Reciprocation

Offer to do a favour first and the other party will reciprocate because humans do not like to owe others a favour.

The concession trick. Ask a larger then smaller request. Ask a bigger request that is likely to be rejected. Then followed by your true intended request. People are more likely to concede, accepting your request. However, the initial request cannot be too extreme or unreasonable if not the trick backfires.

READ: Book Summary: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

3. Commitment and Consistency

Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decison.

When doing sales, start with a small order to get him to commit to being your customer.

Be careful about agreeing to trivial requests. Such an agreement can not only increase our compliance with very similar, much larger requests, it can also make us more willing to perform a variety of large favours that are remotely connected to the little favour that we agreed to earlier.

Tip: to get commited, set a goal and write it down. Since humans like to be consistent.

Short-lived compliance vs Long term compliance. Rather than threatening the child about not playing with the toy. Give them a reason not to do it.

4. Social Proof

One way to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct.

Bystander Effect.

To overcome bystander effect, isolate one individual from the crowd.Tell him what help you need. Do not allow bystanders to come to their own conclusions, because especially in a crowd, the principle of social proof and the consequent pluralistic ignorance effect might well cause them to view your situation as a non-emergency.

5. Liking

When we like someone, we are more inclined to be persuaded.

(i) Physical attractiveness

Factors that affect our Liking towards someone:

(ii) Similarity

e.g. background, interests.

Mirror and match customer’s body posture, mood and verbal style.

(iii) Compliments

(iv) Contact and Cooperation

We are more favourable towards the things we have had contact with/ familiar with.

Conditioning and Association

e.g having models to promote new cars

How to Say No

We have to be sensitive to the feeling that we have come to like the practitioner more quickly or more deeply than we would have expected.

6. Authority

From young, humans are taught that obedience to authority is right, disobdience is wrong.

Humans are often as vulnerable to the symbols of authority as to the substance. e.g con artists draping themselves with titles, clothes and trappings of authority.

The symbols of authority:

(i) Title

Authority affects perceptions of size

Prestigious titles lead to height distortions

Size and status are related. That is why con artists like to appear taller to be more convincing.

(ii) Clothes

Difficult to resist requests that come from figures in authority attire.

e.g security guard uniform, business suit.

(iii) Trappings

e.g jewelry, cars

Motorists would wait significantly longer before honking their horns at a new, luxury car stopped in front of a green traffic light than at an older, economy model.

How to Say No

A heightened awareness of authority power

Ask yourself if the authority is truly an expert. How truthful can we expect the expert to behave?

7. Scarcity

In marketing materials, if you state what is to be lost, you will receive a higher chance of response than if you state what is to be gained.

The limited supply of goods makes people wants them now because it increases their immediate value.

Whenever we confront the scarcity pressures surrounding the item, we must also confront the question of what it is we want from the item.

Scarce things do not taste/ feel/ sounds better because of their limited availability.

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