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The Power of Persuasion: How We're Bought and Sold

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471763178
ISBN-10: 0471763179
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This valuable and nonacademic guide reveals the extent to which we are surrounded by persuasion, and how we can resist. Levine (A Geography of Time), a professor of psychology at Cal State Fresno, opens by demonstrating that all of us (including himself) can be persuaded under the right circumstances. He goes on to study financial manipulation and the use of the sense of obligation (which exists in all cultures, even if it is most strongly visible in Japan), and then proceeds to a nuts-and-bolts analysis of salesmanship by describing what he learned and did (and had done to him) as an automobile salesman. He offers an admirably concise and unemotional analysis of the famous Milgram experiment, involving the (claimed) administration of ever-stronger electric shocks to test the impulse to obedience. Inevitably, he moves to cults, the Moonies and the ultimate persuasion horror story, Jonestown. Not so inevitably, he avoids hysteria and demonization, even of Jim Jones, and points out that brute force is required at the extreme end of the persuasion spectrum. Levine's final chapter offers ways of dealing with unwelcome persuasion while remaining part of a society in which some persuasion is part of almost any social interaction. The final results are bout as far as possible from the shrill Hidden Persuaders tradition or the cult deprogrammers who become cult gurus themselves-and quite persuasive about the author's credentials, common sense and ethics.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"This valuable and nonacademic guide reveals the extent to which we are surrounded by persuasion, and how we can resist it." Publishers Weekly "An interesting book... Levine puts his analysis in the service of his real mission - to arm the reader against manipulation." The Wall Street Journal "If you're like most people, you think advertising and marketing work - just not on you. Robert Levine's Power of Persuasion demonstrates how even the best-educated cynics among us can be victimized by sales pitches." The Globe and Mail "Levine's style of writing makes the reader feel as though they are in the story with him. An excellent read and well-recommended to those particularly interested in advertising, group dynamics, and occupational psychology." Psychologist,The --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (January 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471763179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471763178
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A very intersting introduction to the psychology of persuation, how everything from car salesman, education, religion, through to cults manipulate their victims. The book has certainly made me curious to find out more about the subject and I intend to read guidebooks on how to apply these principles in everyday life.

In other words this is an intro to the psychology, but not a guide on how to apply it. For example the book talks in general terms about the process that car dealerships design for persuading a customer to commit to a sale, but gives not enough detail to how to design such a sales process.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book via a reference from Slashdot, and decided to read it for myself. It's a useful primer on persuasion. Levine's insight and explanation of the mechanics of manipulation can serve as either inoculation against hucksters, or inspiration to try these tricks yourself. It's an engaging read. Levine lays out principles which are simple and practical (e.g., the triangle of trustworthiness: authority, honesty, likability), and he avoids the dry, academic tone that saddles many Ph.D.'s writing. You don't need a GED to enjoy this book.
I had two minor complaints, neither sufficient to reduce my rating from five to four stars. While the book is replete with fascinating anecdotes and synopses of various studies, Levine also peppers the text with tongue-in-cheek remarks. Most of them are funny, but he spends a few paragraphs too many chuckling at his own jokes (or his pal, Lenny). More significantly, Chapter Nine ("Jonestown") comes from left field. For 200 pages, Levine writes about sales and marketing -- and then suddenly he spends 20 pages pontificating about a religious cult. It's interesting, but misplaced. If I'd wanted to read a book about Jonestown, there are dozens. I wouldn't have picked Levine's.
That said, I recommend this book. There are no surprises (apart from Jonestown): If you're intrigued by the teaser, you'll like the book. Aside from a general education about impressionability, I took away several specific notes. Levine's comments about Matisse struck a chord with me, and I'm currently reading Paco Underhill's "Why We Buy" based on Levine's reference. This is a worthwhile book. I'm glad I bought it, and I expect to pick it up again in a few years.
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Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved Power of Persuasion!
Levine writes and gives due credit to everyone from his students (by name) to the many researchers who make the field more fascinating and understood year by year.
I can't say enough about this book. When I wrote The Psychology of Persuasion in 1996, I knew that persuasion was a field that would become more fascinating and important as each year would come and go. This book is like a bible of persuasion,influence and contains an enormous amount of research about how you and I might not know each ourselves as well as we think. Get this book! You will get new ideas and tips that I had not seen prior to this book and that is rare indeed. Buy this book. It is one of the best in the field. [...]
Kevin Hogan
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you like books on influence that have a strong academic foundation and plenty of real world examples, you'll like this one. And I loved reading it.

Just before starting to write this review, I saw something that illustrates how each of us often sees certain things differently. Another reviewer believed the book's example of a car dealer's sales process lacks the details a reader needs to design a sales process. That example is precisely the one I'd decided to mention to you.

Levine uses ten pages to detail this nine-step process. It's a terrific, practical example of getting the customer to make a series of small commitments that greatly increase the likelihood of a sale. You'll get enough info about each step and the overall process to adapt to your sales system to the extent you want. Most of us will choose to borrow parts of this and other processes you read about. One reason is that this particular process included unsavory steps.

Sure, it will take some work and thinking on your part to improve your sales process. That's part of customizing sales systems so they work best for you.

Interestingly, the book gives the real name (Mike Gasio of Fresno, CA) of the super-slick salesman...and notes that he left the auto sales business and became a teacher and counselor for at-risk young people. Mike now uses the same process of gradually increasing commitments to help these troubled youngsters make healthy changes in their lives. What a great story. And illustration of how we can effectively adapt persuasion tools to create either sleazy or healthy results. Once we have the information...the choice is ours.

One of my favorite books on persuasion.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This should be a book that every consumer should read. What I find very interesting was that many of the techniques employed by sales people or con artist that was used on me was discribed step by step in this book. Though I didn't fall for them back then, it was eye opening to see 'their' textbook on persuading you.

Most of the information and studies in this book are quite old. But nonetheless it is still revelant today. This most fascinating part for me was how retail stores and supermarkets showcases their merchandise. Or how simply by putting a more expensive item next to the cheaper item will generate more sales on the cheaper item. Sounds simple, but it isn't, that is why companies spend so much money on marketing and research.

More rational people will generally not fall for tricks illustrated in this book. But unfortunately, these tricks do work because there are enough irrational people out there that are susceptible to them.
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