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The Rules of Influence: Winning When You're in the Minority Hardcover – March 27, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“Look out, Goliath―David has a training manual! In this smart and engaging book, Crano uses cutting-edge scientific research to show us how the few can influence the many, and how the weak can beat the strong. One of the best books on social psychology ever written.” ―Daniel Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness

“Machiavelli had it easy ― all he had to do was advise one Prince on how to gain power and how to keep it. William Crano has chosen the opposite, and more difficult task: to advise citizens in a democracy on how to be heard, and listened to, by the powers that be. Based on deep layers of research, yet written with verve, this thoughtful book is an essential manual for informed social action.” ―Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, bestselling author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience and Good Business

The Rules of Influence by Crano is the seminal work defining specifically how those in the minority must proceed if they are to influence others and cause change. Groundbreaking. Fascinating. Brilliant.” ―Kevin Hogan, Psy.D., author of The Science of Influence

“The author succeeds in explaining the concepts and studies in a manner accessible even to readers with no prior knowledge of social psychology, and he cites abundant examples of the success of his proposed rules from history and politics.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Clearly it's important to allow those with minority views to have voices and influence in politics and business and on social issues. But what is the most effective way to effect change if your message is being drowned out by those in power? Crano lays out a set of effective rules of engagement for alternative thinkers that involves working from the inside, being persistent, staying on message, being flexible, and other strategies to give the little guy a chance for his voice to be heard.” ―Booklist

About the Author

Dr. William D. Crano is a professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University, an American Psychological Association and Association for Psychological Science fellow, and a former NATO senior scientist. He is married with three children and lives in California.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312552297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312552299
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #925,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brandon N on April 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're looking for a how-to book on interpersonal influence, then this isn't the book for you. It won't help you persuade your boss for a raise, it won't help you score a date, and it won't help you get your kids to clean their room. Fortunately, I didn't buy it expecting that it would.

What this book primarily does is explain how the minority of a group can influence the majority. The author goes about this very systematically, first explaining what groups are, why group membership is important to us, how we react to people in our groups versus those outside our groups. In fact, the first "rule of influence" doesn't even come until chapter 3.

So what does the author spend all that time talking about? Aside from discussing various social psychological studies that explain some of the empirical work behind these rules, he spends a lot of time relating the material to politics, history, business, law, sports, communications, public health, and probably a few more things I've forgotten.

People buying this looking for a quick guide on how to influence groups may get frustrated by this, in which case I would suggest they skip straight to chapter 9, where the author summarizes the common tactics the majority will take to marginalize a minority position. In chapter 10, he summarizes what the minority must do. For an explanation behind the summaries, read the rest of the book. This is probably a good idea anyway since you'll want to try out the tactics at some point. At least if you fail, you'll know what went wrong.

I would also suggest watching the movie 12 Angry Men after reading this book (preferably the 1957 version). You'll see what the main character does in a whole new light.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Maslanka on April 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
First, the bad news:the first seventy pages or so are just so much throat clearing. Now the good news:Page 70 forward set out clearly(for the most part), in digestable and discrete rules how to influence the majority to see your point of view. The linchpin is that the majority must see the minority as a legitimate part of the majority. Crano expertly describes how the opponents of Prop 8 in California(prohibiting same sex marriage) lost;namely, they failed to normalize gays as part of the majority by having ads showing gay couples doing what hetro couples do---buying homes, going to work, living their lives. He sums it up:"...the minority must become recognized as a legitimate part of the larger group. Unless the campaign accomplished this, the opposition to the marriage ban was destined to fail---and it did." He alos lays out that the key to persuasion, after meeting this threshold, is to be persistent, consisitent, and unwilling to concede(but be flexible in how you achieve your goals). A worthwhile addition to persuasion literature.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Rosenberg on March 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Crano is a jack of all trades: he is an expert in research methods; attitudes and persuasion; social influence; prevention science. All of his work is brilliant, and this book is no exception. His love for minority influence, in particular, shows through in this book. As one of his students, I have heard Dr. Crano talk passionately about The Rules of Influence for several years. The breadth and depth of his knowledge in the area of minority influence come through clearly in this book. What also makes this book special, though, is Dr. Crano's unmatched writing ability. The prose is accessible yet lofty; it is almost as entertaining as one of his lectures! Great book by a fantastic teacher, mentor, and person.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence on December 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read comments from the other reviewers, I agree with much of what the others have said. However, I can only give it 2 stars as I felt this book fell short in a number of areas. First and foremost, I think there are better, more practical books on how minority can influence the majority.

While the "rules of influence" proposed by the author are fair enough, I don't think they are the discovery the author make them out to be. Nor are they the be all and end all of successful influence. For example, rule number one is that the minority must be in-group minority; while I can see how finding common ground can be a key to success, I disagree that this is an absolute necessity as argued by the author. Another rule, "Be persistent", I think is somewhat perfunctory as is that not just saying you will fail if you give up? Overall, I think the "rules" are more adaptations of existing work such as Cialdini's rules, Reciprocation, Scarcity, Authority, Consistency, Consensus and Liking (Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini), as oppose to new discoveries.

The book is also unnecessarily long winded. As others have mentioned, the author begins with 90 pages of preamble about the fact that minority often, but not always fail, to influence the majority. Some of the examples used by the author to illustrate his argument are also weak and unconvincing, drawing a long bow to reach his conclusions. For example, to illustrate his point that persistent is necessary, he offered the example of a recent US president who tried to introduce a hideous new uniform for guards around the White House.
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