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Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition Paperback – December 26, 2006
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Influence should be required reading for all business majors. (Journal of Retailing)
This book will strike chords deep in the hearts and psyches of all of us. (Best Sellers Magazine)
The material in Cialdini’s Influence is a proverbial gold mine. (Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology)
From the Inside Flap
Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say yes--and how to apply these understandings. Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.
You'll learn the six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader--and how to defend yourself against them. Perfect for people in all walks of life, the principles of Influence will move you toward profound personal change and act as a driving force for your success.--Journal of Mariketing Research
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In reply to the few one star reviews...It has been stated in the uncharitable reviews, that the entire content of the book could have been written in a few pages. I agree, at first look, this would seem true. The Harvard Business Review article "Harnessing the Science of Persuasion" by Cialdini, from their October 2001 issue....is a good example. You can even get the Six Principles from the books Table Of Contents...save yourself some time.
But sales ideas have to not just be listed....not just explained...they have to be sold. Examples have to be given, Principles have to be
explained...we need proof. And you need the entire book to do that. The people who read a short article by the author, maybe read the
ideas...but nothing else happens. Salespeople are changed by the content of this book, like with all great sales books. For salespeople to benefit from a sales book, the ideas have to be explained, understood, proven, accepted, and made real. This book does that.
I own perhaps 2,000 books on the subject of selling. This is certainly in the top 5.
1. Reciprocity – People tend to return a favor, thus the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing. In his conferences, he often uses the example of Ethiopia providing thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after the 1985 earthquake, despite Ethiopia suffering from a crippling famine and civil war at the time. Ethiopia had been reciprocating for the diplomatic support Mexico provided when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. The good cop/bad cop strategy is also based on this principle.
2. Commitment and consistency – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because of establishing that idea or goal as being congruent with their self-image. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honor the agreement. Cialdini notes Chinese brainwashing of American prisoners of war to rewrite their self-image and gain automatic unenforced compliance. Another example is children being made to repeat the Pledge of Allegiance each morning and why marketers make you close popups by saying “I’ll sign up later” or "No thanks, I prefer not making money”.
3. Social proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic. See conformity, and the Asch conformity experiments.
4. Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts. Cialdini cites incidents such as the Milgram experiments in the early 1960s and the My Lai massacre.
5. Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them. Some of the many biases favoring more attractive people are discussed. See physical attractiveness stereotype.
6. Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a "limited time only" encourages sales.
The trick is that as the world gets more complex, these 6 things also provide us with social shortcuts, to keep on the straight and narrow with minimal effort. But this means we have to be vigilant - to make sure we are not being taken advantage of. He notes that we often get that funny feeling in the pit our stomach when we are being manipulated against our will, and he suggests using that feeling/intuition to our advantage - to recognize when we are at risk. One of the things I love about this book is that Cialdini himself is the first to admit that even with all he knows, even he was and is not immune, and he provides some very funny examples to show how he personally has been taken advantage of.
This really is a must read book. In the same vein, the last thing on his list is a one sentence course on persuasion - the sentence being, "People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies."
I think one of the most amazing examples in his book concerns well publicized suicides, as there are not just the expected copy cat suicides, but also up to 10X more fatal aircraft and automobile crashes. It's amazing how little it takes to establish a new subconscious social norm. Our lizard brain betrays us more often than we might think.
I picked the book up because it was recommended by a successful business owner who indicated that in building her business model, marketing strategy, and designing her website she used the principles in this book and found them to be very effective.
Insightful with good breakdowns of each principle and great examples. He even explains how a consumer can act against their natural and automated response to some of these triggers, which, for a business person, provides research into how to overcome rebuttals.
Could be that he wrote this book for the consumer, so they understood how they are being manipulated and how to overcome it...or could be that he geniusly manipulated us into believing it was in advocacy of the consumer when it's really for the business owner, heh heh. Either way, good read.
Top international reviews
Recommended? YES. Buy it now if you haven’t read it.
Table of contents:
1 Weapons of Influence
2 Reciprocation: The Old Give and Take…and Take
3 Commitment and Consistency: Hobgoblins of the Mind
4 Social Proof: Truths Are Us
5 Liking: The Friendly Thief
6 Authority: Directed Deference
7 Scarcity: The Rule of the Few
Below are my key takeaways and some interesting points, but I’m telling you. Buy it. Read it. Trust me.
* Expensive implies quality. Example: gems in a jewel case that weren’t selling were marked up and then sold at a “discount” to the markup (a price higher than the original price), and they sold like hotcakes.
* Power of contrast. Example: If you go into a men’s store they’ll try and sell you an expensive suit before the sell you the expensive jumper because the contrast makes the sweater appear more affordable.
* Reciprocity. Example: If someone buys you something (say, a Coke), you’re more likely to buy something from them (say, raffle tickets).
* Concession. Example: If someone tries to sell you something and you pass (say $5 of $1 raffle tickets), they’ll try and sell you something less, that you’ll end up buying because you feel bad (1 $1 raffle ticket). Another term used here is “reject then retreat.”
* Commitment leads to consistency leads to collaboration. Example: During the Korean war, the Chinese got American soldiers to make public commitments of various things. Then they made those commitments even more public, which the American soldiers had to stand by to be consistent. That consistency then led them down a path of minor forms of collaboration – without them really thinking about it as such.
* Writing something down, even privately, strengthens your commitment to something.
* People like and believe in commitment because their image and reputation are on the line (i.e. the Chinese concentration camp example above).
* People like more what they struggle to get, even if it’s not that good. Example: frats (hey, it’s in the book, don’t hate the messenger).
* People like to feel they have control over a decision – even if they really don’t.
* The power of social proof, or the idea that if others do it it’s good. Example: introverted pre-schoolers who saw introverted kids become social in a movie were more inclined to go play. Another example: cults. People follow the crowd because they believe in the “wisdom” of the crowd.
* Convince and you shall be convinced. Example: cults, where people who convince or convert others become more convinced (that’s why so many are evangelical).
* Assign responsibility if you want things done. Example: a stabbing that took place over many minutes had 38 witnesses…it happened cause everyone figured someone else would call the police.
* The power of copycats that’ll play on social proof. Example: if you find a wallet of someone like you and you’re more likely to return it (it’s true). Another (scary) example: more suicides when the press publicizes a suicide…more fatal “accidents” too.
* Liking is an important part of influence. Attractiveness, similarity (identity and context), compliments, contact & cooperation all can make someone more influential.
* The reason good cop/bad cop works is because the subject feels someone is on their side.
* Associations are powerful. Bearers of good news get treated well, and bad news get treated poorly. Examples: weathermen (or Roman messengers reporting lost battles!)
* People tend to defer to authority/experts. Examples: experiments involving shock therapy where people listened to a guy in a lab coat to inflict pain on another human being (incredible how strong this is).
* The power of connotations and context over content, and how it can imply authority. Titles and clothing do this.
* Gaining trust. Example: a waiter who advises against a more expensive item early in the meal will gain the trust of everyone at the table, and then he can suggest more expensive items and more items through the course of the meal.
* Scarcity is powerful. There’s a psychological reaction…people don’t want to lose their freedom and don’t want to lose. This plays to a second point: competition. Invite 3 used car buyers at the same time and you’ll sell the car faster. A cookie is more attractive if there are two of them than if there are 10 of them. (Always as yourself when something is scarce: will the cookie taste as good if there are 10 of them?). Plus, if you saw that the number went from 10 to 2, you want it even more. It can even lead to revolt…when something is given and then taken away, people get mad; if something is never given at all, they don’t know what they’re missing.
* “It appears that commitments are most effective in changing a person’s self-image and future behaviour when they are active, public, and effortful.”
* “The most influential leaders are those who know how to arrange group conditions to allow the principle of social proof to work maximally in their favour.”
* “Social proof is most powerful for those who feel unfamiliar or unsure of a specific situation and who, consequently, must look outside of themselves for evidence of how to best behave there.”
Robert is a brilliant writer who well earns his accolade as the 'seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion' as he sets out how the five psychological principles of consistency, reciprocation, social proof, liking and scarcity direct human behaviour to give these tactics their power.
The ability for each of these principles to produce a distinct kind of automatic, mindless compliance from people to willingly say 'yes' without giving it a second thought is explained. Quite astounding and entertaining at the same time - a real eye opener and highly recommended for anyone who wants to take control over their decision making and indeed, understand how to achieve buy-in from others to do what they want them to do.
I first read this book in March 2012 and read it again this year as part of my research for my new blog.
What really caught my eye, the second time round, is the last chapter on Authority - How To Say No. This in view of the fact that it is now common knowledge that too many 'Social Media Consultants' who claim to be 'experts' are actually nothing of the kind.
Robert writes: 'We particularly mis-perceive the profound impact of authority (and its symbols)on our actions, we are at the disadvantage of being insufficiently cautious about its presence in compliance situations. A fundamental form of defence against this problem. When this awareness is coupled with a recognition of how easily authority symbols can be faked, the benefit will be a properly guarded approach to situations involving authority-influence attempts.'
He goes on to say that the best way to protect ourselves is to ask two questions: 1) Is this authority truly an expert? (to focus our attention on acquiring evidence of credentials and the relevance of those credentials to the topic in hand thus avoiding automatic deference), and 2) How truthful can we expect the expert to be here? (To focus on their trustworthiness in the situation as we seem to be swayed more by experts who seem to be impartial than by those who have something to gain by convincing us).
Paper quality - Very bad. It is equivalent to quality that is available on road side or some times on traffic signals at max. 100 Rs.
Quality of paper must be improved, here paying extra in comparison to what is available on locations mentioned above.
Book not worth amount paid.
Awesome content. Horrible Copy. Great Service by Amazon. Returned!
However when I skipped to parts that I was interested in, the topics were quite enlightening. It certainly highlights the vulnerability and gullibility of 'the public' that is exploited in a scurrilous manner by so much of the commercial and corporate world. I helps to know what tricks they use in order to be a jump ahead of them if any should try such tricks against us. I would say it was useful but in a limited way. Interesting in parts. Perhaps not quite as revolutionary as the old 1960s "How to win friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie but in my opinion it's a modern day upgrade on the ethos contained in that book, but with a lot of the sexism updated to be more politically correct for the 21st Century. It was good value certainly.
Some of the samples are so small that statistically the assertions are difficult to back up, but if you put that to one side you can believe the experiments would get results in the stated direction.
The book is really well laid out and the case studies are very compelling, but I feel the reason why they are compelling is because they are 'shocking' and outline the manipulative ways to influence people - nothing short of a dodgy NLP life coach or TV shopping channel.
Modern schools of thought, in marketing and advertising, tend to err on the side of more 'healthy' ways of engaging people and influencing them through positively reinforced actions and behaviours.
He offers examples that we can relate to, an understanding of where these might have come from, and ways that we can identify them and if not make us totally resilient, at least give tools to mitigate the effect they have on us. This is an excellent book - a pleasure to read while still providing useful, comprehensible and rigorous insights into how we work.
Cialdini perfectly manages to combine the scientific and academic depth of the topic with incredibly practical real-world application. No single book is going to transform you into some mesmeric machiavellian master, but this book absolutely will make you better at persuading and influencing others in their decisions.
I love the way the author support his hypothesis with valid examples that I could easily relate with. Reading this book will open your understanding to why you probably always says yes even when you mean no, or why you do buy what you don't need with the money your don't really have!
I am still reading it and do re read over again so that it would be part of my philosophy for life - it's better to learn the art of influence especially the social influence, if you don't, others will do anyway. No one is immune from the weapon of influence on a daily basis.
This book also makes me think about the bits I read the next day which I think is a good sign.
The only issues I have with the book which is more of a personal preference. I feel like topics could be more summarised. For me in some cases I've found it hard to follow/relate to.
Some subjects are covered just right but sometimes I just need that middle ground of, detail but not too much.