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370 of 374 people found the following review helpful
Right away, buyers should know that Cialdini has produced a less-expensive version of this book. "Influence: Science and Practice" is designed as a textbook for classroom instruction. So, it has things like chapter summaries and questions that can be assigned as homework. However, the other book "Influence: the psychology of persuasion," is designed for a more general audience. The content is basically the same, but it omits the classroom-oriented layout. It's also cheaper. If you are a student who is buying textbooks online, this is probably what you (or rather, your professors) want. If not, get the other one.

Both books focus on persuasive tactics. This is not a theoretical work trying to lay out a strategy of communication, like "Getting to Yes." This is a toolkit, designed to give the reader a selection of tools for specific circumstances. That is not to say that Cialdini lacks an understanding of more strategic thinking, just that it isn't the focus here.

The underlying theory is that people tend to be hardwired to respond to certain stimuli in predictable ways. The book tells you what those stimuli are, that is, how to push people's buttons. And it does a very good job, which is why Cialdini has demand for two versions of the same book.

I'm not going to list all of the tactics because the table of contents does that and, because they're detailed, they're difficult to understand without reading the book. But, they all have some basis in science and their effectiveness is empirically demonstrable, so you can trust that they work. The best part of this book, for me, was becoming more conscious of how others, including politicians, advertisers, and bosses, try to manipulate me. Cialdini deserves respect just for opening people's eyes, but he goes a step further by explaining ways to deal with the constant manipulation that is inherent in human communication.

The only problems I see are that the textbook version (this one) has a better index in the editions I compared, so it makes a better reference tool and that the book is written from an American cultural perspective. That's fine, as most of his audience is American, but, and this is my M.A. in Int'l Relations talking, I wonder how well some of these tactics would be recieved by people from other cultural backgrounds. In particular, notions of authority (which constitute a chapter) vary widely. Just a heads up. This is still a "must read" for people who want to know how to persuade or protect themselves against other's persuasion.
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172 of 174 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2010
This was a great book. I come from a technical background, and as most people know engineers are horrible at influencing others. But this book taught me a lot of simple ideas that are applicable in helping to motivate others to my point of view and also how to recognize when others are using these techniques and how to defend against them.

The book has 6 different concepts and it goes into the psychology of each (at a high level), some examples of it, and a few testimonials from readers. It was a quick read and held my attention throughout.

As a side note, in case you are comparing editions. The "Influence Science and Practice" seems to be the most recent version. The "Influence psychology of persuasion" book looks like the same book with an earlier copyright. Skimming through the chapters of both they look like the exact same text, so you probably don't need both.
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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2010
"Influence" by Robert Cialdini is one of the most wonderful and influential books I've ever read! Other books have been written on the topic, but Cialdini's is the best and most influential of them all.

"Influence" deals with the study of persuasion, compliance, and change - a subject that has application for every area of life. Cialdini presents the latest research on influence in a compelling way, clearly stating the 6 principles of influence and providing wonderful illustrations of each principle from advertising, psychology and other fields. If we understood these 6 principles better, we would be less subject to manipulation from others (for example, the manipulation to buy things we don't need or to buy more than we need). We might, in turn, also be able to understand how to influence others for good.

The 6 principles of influence are:

1. The Rule of Reciprocation: "We should try to repay in kind what another person has provided us."

2. Commitment and Consistency: "Once we make a choice or take a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment."

3. Social Proof: "We determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct."

4. Liking: "We most prefer to say yes to the requests of people we know and like."

5. Authority - we have a deep-seated sense of duty to authority

6. Scarcity - something is more valuable when it is less available

I find that in my own life, these 6 principles are remarkably powerful and have the ability to explain a lot of the behavior I observe as a father, teacher, and priest. We would all benefit from memorizing and mastering these six principles. They are simple but extremely powerful. My daughter read this book when she was 14 or 15, and I had to wrestle with her to get it back because she loved it so much! I only hope she doesn't begin using the principles against me!

One of the best parts of the book is the wonderful examples of each principle that Cialdini provides. An experiment to demonstrate the principle of authority, conducted by Stanley Milgram, is the classic example. In this experiment, two volunteers show up to help with an experiment, purportedly to test the effect of punishment on learning and memory. A researcher in a lab coat with a clipboard explains the experiment to the volunteers and that one is to take the role of the Teacher, who will administer increasingly higher levels of electric shock to the other volunteer, the Learner. Every time the Learner got a question incorrect, the Teacher was to administer a higher level of shock. However, the real experiment was to test how willing the Teacher was to administer pain to the innocent Learner, who was not really another volunteer but an actor pretending to be in increasing stages of pain. The results shocked everyone, for Milgram discovered that about two-thirds of the subjects were willing to administer the highest level of electric shock. The reason? Their deep-seated duty to authority.

Influence is filled with many such fascinating and useful examples of how our lives are influenced by others. I highly recommend the book to all readers, for influence is something common to us all, for good or for evil.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
I disagree with the complaints about this being a repeat of earlier versions. "4th Edition" is quite clear. This is an updated easy to read version of a highly-regarded seminal work whose value has been proven over time.

While intended for students of psychology and for practitioners of the black art of marketing (selling over-priced unnecessary "stuff" to the unwitting), I regard this text as a very helpful reference for the new warriors, the practitoners of Information Operations and within that larger discipline, Strategic Communication & Public Diplomacy.

The six "principles" of influence, reciprocation, consistency, social proof (e.g. canned laughter), liking, authority, and scarcity, each receive their own chapter with annedotes and study questions.

Most interesting to me would be an international variation of this book, one that discussed the nuances of influence in other cultures, inclusive of family ties and prevalent sterotypes.

This book is applicable to business, evangelism, foreign affairs, defense, homeland security, and just about any field where interaction with humans is called for, and the mission demands the elicitation of collaborative behavior from others.

Good index, notes, and illustrations. Well-presented.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
I've reviewed many books on influence and persuasion and this is one of the top books in the category. Easy to read, excellent writing style, it is a hard book to put down and begs you to read it slowly so that you don't miss something important. One of the fun things about reading it is when the author makes a point and you can look back and realize that you have dealt with someone who used just that technique to get you to buy that candy bar, car, or change your mind about something.
Persuasive speaking is an important part of what I do and I am very successful at it. The ability to persuade others has been very hard to pass on to employees and other speakers who have asked me how I do it. This book allowed me to look at what I do and see how I can transfer that ability to others. It has also helped me see some of the tricks of persuasion that snare the unwary and how they are used by unscrupulous people.
Cialdini not only makes his case by carefully presenting the techniques and the experiments on which they are based, but also details how they are used and how you can use them. For each technique he also indicates how to know when it is being used against you and how to resist the influence.
A highly recommended book and one of the best on this subject, Cialdini's work is often quoted in other books on influence and persuasion.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2009
Isn't it amazing how each new edition of this great book sells even better than the previous one? And it does so for for one reason, the information works.

"Influence" by Robert Cialdini teaches us the basics of how people are influenced. It breaks influence into six key factors:
1. Reciprocation
2. Consistency and Commitment
3. Social Proof
4. Authority
5. Liking (the person who is trying to influence us)
6. Scarcity

Each of the above points is detailed in a chapter. Academic studies and examples are given in a very engaging fashion. Some of the studies are for the birds. For example, mother turkeys, who are known to be caring parents (as far as birds go), tend to respond only to the "cheep-cheep" sound of their chicks.

Hearing the cheep-cheep, the mother turkey coddles and cares for the young turkey chick. It is a short-cut response that nature has given turkeys to know how to behave. It tends to work well in nature. But, tricky scientists recorded the cheep-cheep sound and placed the recording into a stuffed Polecat, the natural enemy of the turkey, and found that the mother turkeys adopted the stuffed polecat. Coddled it and cared for it.

That was quite amazing, as the usual response of a mother turkey to a stuffed Polecat without the cheep-cheep recording is an outright assault on the Polecat. This reflexive behavior tends to work most of the time, but sometimes is inappropriate. The mother turkey is responding in what Cialdini refers to as a "click, whir" method. Once some reactor sets off a signal (click), the mother turkey plays its own internal tape (whir) which signifies the appropriate response.

Only, sometimes, the response is not appropriate. And, some predators have learned the mimic strategy to trick their prey. Now, this may be useful if your goal is to be adopted by a turkey (or maybe its something that could protect you from a wild turkey attack!), you say, but how does this apply to me?

The answer is that people themselves have "click, whir" behavior. Because people wish to avoid the work of making decisions, they have internal tapes they run which tell them how to respond under various conditions. Most of the time our internal tapes are appropriate. But, sometimes, they are not. And some human predators have learned to exploit our "click, whir" behavior. Often, these predators come in the form of salespeople.

Cialdini discusses how to say "No" to each of these six influence factors by being aware of how influence works and reading your internal gut feeling.

This book is excellent reading for anyone who wants to learn how to influence others. Job hunters, managers, and marketers will benefit from reading this book. Although I do not suggest you try to use this knowledge in a devious way, knowing how to approach asking for a request is useful. Investors can benefit also.

For example, "social proof" states that we often look to others to determine what is correct behavior in a situation. We most look to others to deem what is correct in times of uncertainty. This can lead to "pluralistic ignorance." Everyone is assuming that the other guy knows what he is doing and we follow. Manias and gross overvaluation of publicly-traded stocks come to mind. And, this is why publishers of bestselling books are quick to point out "Over 1 million copies sold!" on their book covers. One million readers can't be wrong, can they?

In an attempt to avoid the hard work of thinking, we follow the herd off the cliff, blindly assuming where everyone else is going must be safe. As stated in "Influence" 95% of people are followers and only 5% of people are leaders.

Often, we are most likely to follow "experts." This is the authority factor above. We tend to believe and follow anyone who we assume is an expert. However, following experts can also lead to problems.

"Influence" points out that about 10% of medication administered by hospitals may be in error. This is a serious problem and can obviously lead to death.

Why is it that hospitals have such a problem with errors in medication? Despite the training and knowledge of R.N.'s, they tend to unquestioningly follow the instructions of the doctors. Even if the instructions don't make sense.

Cialdini tells the story of a man who complained of an earache. He had an ear infection and the doctor prescribed eardrops for him. On the prescription, the doctor wrote, "Place drops in R ear." As the doctor was in a hurry, he abbreviated "Right" with R.

Sure enough, the trained nurse obediently followed the instructions and placed the required number of drops in the patient's anus. Neither the patient nor the nurse questioned the instructions, as they came from an authority.

Cialdini's website also has great information. I couldn't stop reading. I learned that the brain waves of most people engaged in difficult thinking mirrors the brain activity of having your hand thrust in ice-cold water.

Even if you never feel the need to be adopted by a mother turkey, maybe Cialdini's "Influence" will keep eardrops out of your anus, help keep you from buying things you later regret, and help you understand how influence works. I highly recommend this book.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2003
Influence: Science and Practice, by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. has sold over a quarter million copies and has been published in nine different languages. Perhaps not surprising for a psychology book, but this is neither a dry college text nor a "pop" how-to book.

Cialdini is a retired professor of psychology at Arizona State University. He has studied why we buy things, often without much thought, and has broken down our "short-cut" (read knee-jerk) actions into six categories: Reciprocation, Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority and Scarcity.

Reciprocation is the experience we have when a member of a religious sect hands us a flower in an airport and then asks for a donation. We don't really want to, but we feel a social obligation to reciprocate. Same thing happens whenever we get an unsolicited gift.

Consistency is about behaving in a way that is congruent with the expectations of others. What those around us think is true of us is enormously important in determining what we ourselves think is true.

Social Proof is the influence that peer groups have on us. Cialdini quotes Cavett Roberts's advice to sales trainees, "Since 95 percent of people are imitators and only five percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer."

Liking is demonstrated by several traits and behaviors, but the bottom line is this: people have to buy into you personally before they buy your product. People do business with people they like.

Authority is the demonstrated influence of anyone who sets himself up as knowing more than we do or having greater experience. This can be an Army general or a crafty restaurant waiter or any other self-proclaimed authority figure.

Scarcity is demonstrated by the greater desirability of the product when it is harder to get or more exclusive.

As Cialdini says, "The joy is not in experiencing a scarce commodity but in possessing it. It is important that we do not confuse the two." Hence the scarcity tactics used by many sales people.

Cialdini devotes a lot of space to explaining both how we can use these principles to influence others, and how, jujitsu style, we can defend ourselves against all this.

I hope this influences you to read this amazing book.
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63 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Edition after edition. They all sell. Why? Because this is a superbly written treatise on the subject of influence. This book and Aronson's Social Animal both rate among my 50 favorite books of all time. Cialdini's influence was enormously influential in my work in the field of persuasion and you can't say enough wonderful things about this text. Cialdini writes with clarity and authority about one of the most important subjects in the world today. A mega-winner. I have bought dozens of copies of this book for clients. It sets the standard. Kevin Hogan, ...
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2004

This well-referenced book first published in 1985 and authored by Robert Cialdini, an experimental social psychologist, deals with the dynamics of interpersonal influence processes.

Specifically, this book deals with the compliance of "automatic influence" which Cialdini defines by a question: "Just what are the factors [or principles] that cause one person to say yes [without thinking first] to another person?"

The principles mentioned in the above question are the subject of this book and, in fact, this book is organized around them. There are six principles discussed. Cialdini calls these principles "weapons of influence."

Each principle or "weapon" has a well written and thorough chapter devoted to it. Parts of these chapters are occasionally humerous. As well, each chapter has plenty of examples to illustrate each principle.

However, just knowing these principles is not enough! You have to know the practical techniques or "compliance tactics" that are based on these principles in order to get the desired result of automatic compliance. This book is packed with these techniques as well as examples of how they're used.

Why bother to learn these principles and techniques? Answer: to protect yourself. Protect yourself? From whom? To protect yourself from "compliance professionals" (for example, sales people, fund raisers, and advertisers) who utilize these principles and their associated tactics to help them get their own way. Where money is at stake, having them get their own way could be costly. Cialdini suggests ways of thinking to defend yourself against such people after you realize a specific technique is being used on you.

Of course, the compliance pros aren't the only ones who know about and use these principles and tactics. We all use them and fall victim to them to some degree in our interaction with neighbors, friends, spouses, and so on.

A handy feature of this book is the summary sections at the end of each chaper. These effectively highlight the main ideas in each chapter.

After reading this book, you'll be able to answer questions such as these:

(1) Imagine you're a lawyer representing someone who broke his leg in a store and is suing the store for $25,000.00 in damages. What would you do during the trial to make the jury see that this amount is reasonable, even a small, reward?

(2) Why is the "free" sample really not so free?

(3) What is there about written promises that make them so effective?

(4) Which naturally occurring conditions of city life reduce the chances of bystander intervention in an emergency?

(5) What is the evidence that we tend to say "yes" to similar others in an automatic fashion?

(6) What is the relationship between size and status in our society? Why did this relationship develop in this way?

(7) During one mid-1980's Christmas season the most sought after toy in the U.S. and Canada was the Cabbage Patch doll, which was said to be in very limited supply. Why were people reported to have spent as much as 35 times the regular price for this doll at public auctions to own a doll that cost much less at department stores?

(8) How can each weapon of influence be used in an exploitive way and how can each be used in a non-exploitive way?

In conclusion, don't be easy prey to compliance professionals! Learn about the principles or weapons of influence and their associated compliance tactics. Most importantly, learn the ways to defend yourself against such weapons and tactics. This book explains all this and more!!

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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2001
Unlike "pop" influence books written by random people this is REAL social science. Cialdini is brilliant, providing solid evidence to back up his principles. Each major concept is supported by a variety of social psychology studies that demonstrates the principles in practice. Not only does it show how you can and how you are influenced, but also provides notes on how not to be manipulated. His style, while very detailed, is easy to read, with lots of often self-deprecating humor throughout. If you want to get a taste of this before buying, I'd suggest the audible lecture by Cialdini - it's a great intro to the subject and a blast to listen to. My only hope is that too many people don't find out about this book. Let them waste their time on NLP pseudo-science and outdated Machiavellian nonsense.
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