Attractive candidates in Canadian Federal elections have received 2.5 times as many votes as unattractive candidates, a fact that presumably makes Justin Trudeau rub his hands with glee. Better yet, despite such evidence, 73% of Canadians denied any possibility that physical attractiveness affects their votes. We don’t understand our own biases well, and they make a huge difference to our behaviour. That makes them fascinating and also extremely important.
Cialdini lists 6 factors that influence our behaviour: consistency, reciprocation, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity. These explain why we buy what we do, how we vote, how Chinese POW camps worked, why giving people electric shocks or hazing them to join a group makes them value the group more, how to fundraise, why we say we won, referring to a sports team, while they lost, why banning cleaning products containing phosphates increased how effect people believed them to be, and many, many, many other factors.
Influence has been on my list for a while, and I’ve only just gotten around to reading it. I shouldn’t have taken so long: I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s the best guide to behavioural economics I’ve read, written when behavioural economics wasn’t much more than a dream in the minds of people like Kahneman, Tversky, and Thaler. It’s fascinating and feels almost comprehensive in its discussion of the factors that influence our behaviour, and provides useful, insightful examples and commentary. My only complaint is that each section ends with a discussion of how to avoid the bias, and it does feel a bit out of date: using modern terminology, he basically just advises us to engage system 2 each time. Still, well worth the read, and definitely a classic.
on November 7, 2003
What are the factors that cause one person to say yes to another person? Which techniques most effectively use these factors to bring about such compliance?
Prof. Cialdini found six such techniques: Reciprocation, Commitment, Social Proof, Liking, Authority and Scarcity. Author explains why they work, and how to say no to peddlers that want to exploit you using them.
The book is well written, the style is simple, there's ample use of appropriate anecdotes so you can better remember what's most important.
The six techniques are discussed "in terms of their function in the society and in terms of how their enormous force can be commissioned by a compliance professional who deftly incorporates them into requests for purchases, donations, concessions, votes..."; yes, 'votes', so I believe it's an important reason for you, citizen, to learn those six tricks, in your own interest! They exploit our 'automatic behavior patterns' (three pages to explain this, don't worry!), and they make us terribly vulnerable to anyone who does know how they work.
I'll break down how Prof. Cialdini examines the rules, I'll use rule number one, "Reciprocation" as an example.
1 - Definition of the rule: "The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us."
2 - Rationale (why it works and why we, as humans, always stick to it): The development of this behaviour "meant that one person could give something (for example, food, energy, care) to another with confidence that it was not being lost.(...) Sophisticated and coordinated systems of aid, gift giving, defense, and trade became possible, bringing immense benefit to the societies that possessed them."
3 - The rule at work: The Hare Krishna Society began to employ a donation-request procedure that engaged this rule. Before a donation is requested, the target person is given a "gift", say, a flower. The unsuspecting passerby who suddenly finds a flower into his hands is not allowed to give it back. "No, it is our gift to you", says the solicitor, refusing to accept it. Only after the Krishna member has thus brought the force of the reciprocation rule to bear the situation is the target asked to provide a contribution to the society.
4 - Power of the rule: "It is instructive that the reciprocation rule has begun to outlive its usefulness for the Krishnas, not because the rule itself is any less potent socially, but because we have found ways to prevent the Krishnas from using it on us. After once falling victim to their tactic, many travelers are now alert to the presence of (...) solicitors in airports and train stations, adjusting thier paths to avoid an encounter and preparing beforehand to ward off a solicitor's 'gift'. (...) It is a testament to the societal value of reciprocation that we have chosen to fight the Krishnas mostly by seeking to avoid rather than to withstand the force of their gift giving".
5 - How to say no: "If the initial favor turns out to be a device, a trick, an artifice designed specifically to stimulate our compliance with a larger return favor", "here our partner is not a benefactor but a profiteer". "We need only react to it accordingly to be free of its influence. As long as we perceive and define his actions as a compliance device instead of a favor, he no longer has the reciprocation rule as an ally: The rule says that favors are to be met with favors; it does not require that tricks be met with favors".
The advice given in this book works very well. Please learn the six techniques by heart and strive to recognize their use during your everyday life: it is an eye-opening exercise, really worth trying.
If you are an easy mark for the pitches of peddlers and con men of one sort of another, or if you just want to know better how persuasion works, this book is unmissable.
Wonderful book, five stars, go have a copy and read it now!
on March 9, 2004
Why do you buy the things you do? This book shows you the ruthless tactics that marketers use to get you to buy their products. It was a real eye opener.
For example: I used to think that the toys stores were out of stock of their best toys during December, because of huge demand. Now I realize that they are doing this on purpose. Why? Because they know the kids won't forget about this toy and they will come back in January to buy it when they get it "back in stock". Meanwhile during the holiday season their parents have to buy them "something" so they make even more money. So when you see them advertising a new toy in November know that they won't have it in by December because they want to trick you.
Read about many more tricks they are using on you and how you can overcome them by reading this great book.
Zev Saftlas, Author of Motivation That Works: How to Get Motivated and Stay Motivated
on April 23, 2010
Great book, great research, well written - it is a must own for any compliance professional. If your in sales and you have not read this book buy it now, you will not go wrong. I first tried to avoid buying this book simply because there are so many summaries online, and a lecture by the author on the topic of Influence. However, after I bought this book I was pleased to read all the research put into it. You will enjoy this book!
on February 28, 2004
This book is primarily about how marketers and sales professional manipulate our minds for their benefits. The topics covered are extensive, including contrast principle, mimic tricks of photuris/blenny, rule for reciprocation, reciprocal concessions (rejection then retreat technique), consistency (willingness to believe in the correctness of a difficult choice, once made), foot in the door technique, committing power of public/written statements, manipulation and exploitation of customers' self image, principle of social proof (draw of the crowd vs pluralistic ignorance when people feel most uncertain and unfamiliar), effect of repeated contact on liking (condition dependent), application of common goals for conflict solving, good cop/bad cop ploy, conditioning and association, the strength of authority pressure, scarcity principle (limited freedom to something makes it more desirable), Romeo and Juliet effect, etc etc. What makes it so outstanding from it's kind is that 1) it's so well written with many vivid examples and few jargons that most readers with no or little psychology background can enjoy it much. 2)In the end of each chapter there's a section named "how to say no", something you seldom find in other psychology book. That's certainly a plus coz knowledge without application amounts to nothing.
In a word, a page turner and a must read particulary for everything in the city jungle.
Remarks: I like the opening adages of some chapters much. To quote some:
Chapter 3 Committment and Consistency: It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end. Da Vinci
Chapter 4 Influence: Where all think alike, no one thinks very much. Lippmann
Chapter 5 Liking: The main work of a trial attorney is to make a jury like his client. Darrow
Chapter 7: The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost. G.K. Chesterton
on October 19, 2003
I first read this book waaaaay back in 1987 (Fear not, the information is far from outdated today, thanks to periodic updated versions) and was incredibly inspired. This book not only shows you how you are influenced to do things that you later wonder, "Why did I do THAT?" but it also shows you how to aviod being influenced by the teachniques revealed. Remember that one magazine advertisement you saw, the one that got you to think of their product and got you to buy it? (Perhaps again...and again...and again?) Sure you have, a thousand times, for a thousand different products. Well, this book reveals the HOW and WHY that ad worked on you! And remember that teacher, or other authority figure, who instructed you to do something, and even though you were confused by it or thought the person made an error, you did it anyway? The HOW and WHY that worked is also revealed here! And have you ever passed on something, but learned lots of other people were going for it, so you went for it too? Yep, the HOW and WHY of that is in here as well! In fact, EVERYTHING that has ever influenced you is revealed in some form or another in this book. Sounds like I'm being hyperbolic, I know, but trust me, it's true. This book is a MUST for anyone interested in NLP, Sales, Public Speaking, or trying to get that stubborn someone to agree to do soemthing for you. So take it from a guy who's gone through almost THREE copies of this book from all the re-reading that I've done, you WILL feel that you have gotten more than your money's worth, and you may even be echoing my review with one of your own.
That's My Opinion, But You're Welcome To It!
on August 20, 2003
This is one of the best books I've ever read! In fact, it's so good that I recommend it to all of my clients. As a love coach, I teach people how to find love and happiness, now and always. But this involves getting other people to do what you want. For example, if you're single, you have to get people to ask you out, or you'll never go on a date. It sounds simple enough, but if you're single and not dating, learning how to influence your potential dates is probably one of your top priorities.
Because finding your perfect partner is a "sales process," this book is a must-read for anyone who is looking for love. If you're in any type of sales, whether it's life insurance or multi-level marketing or "selling yourself" to a potential partner, you'll wonder how you ever sold ANYTHING before you read this book.
Influence teaches you the psychology behind getting people to do what you want. Once you understand what it takes to influence another person, it's easier to get what you want out of life. Don't waste another minute, BUY THIS BOOK and start getting the life you always wanted.
on May 21, 2003
This is most certainly not only a book about negotiation, it is for anyone interested in a gripping read about human psychology and our subconscious response to external stimuli. An interesting example: if you are at a party and you begin talking with a member of the opposite sex whom you find moderately attractive, it is very likely that your initial assessment of this person will decrease when a "beautiful" girl or guy ambles over to join the conversation. Obviously the first person did not morph into someone physically different, but did become comparatively less appealing when smothered in the shadow cast by the "beautiful" person.
While "Getting to Yes" and "You can negotiate anything" were flush with such interesting real-life nuggets and the best on offer in their time, "Influence" would rate as my personal favorite that conceptually digs deep into the art of persuation.
For one thing, Cialdini's writing style is entertaining and exudes common sense. Which makes it worth the ride for just about anyone interested in an intelligent read. I'd even venture to say that he comes across as accessible as Thomas Schelling ("Strategy of Conflict", "Choice and Consequence") in the kinds of intuitive but compelling examples that he uses to illustrate his points.
For another, this is one of the rare books that explain the *psychology* of WHY and HOW human beings/animals respond the way they do. What is different about his hypotheses? Cialdini breaks down his analysis into 6 broad principles consciously or subconsciously employed by people to persuade their counterparts (consistency, reciprocation, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity) and then discusses each of these principles in term of its ability to elicit "automatic, mindless compliance" from us. And if you do not feel that simply being aware of such compliance tactics is defense enough, he goes on to offer useful, practical shields in a scattering of sections such as "How to Say No".
This is an incredibly useful book that one can only hope does not fall into the hands of one's adversary. Clearly required reading for anyone involved in the business of persuasion (marketing/sales, diplomacy, strategy etc) and highly recommended for everyone else.
on January 25, 2003
As I sit here and write, I wonder why I did not draft this review long before now. I read Cialdini's book about five years ago and have been hooked ever since. It is simply a superb book about influence.
Cialdini believes that influence is a science. This idea attracted me. As a rhetorician, I have always thought of persuasion as more of an art. Cialdini, however, makes a first-rate case for the science point of view. But maybe most importantly, he makes his case in a well-written, intelligent, and entertaining manner. Not only is this an important book to read, it is a fun book to read too.
He introduces you to six principles of ethical persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency. A chapter is devoted to each and you quickly see why Cialdini looks at influence as a science. Each principle is backed by social scientific testing and restesting. Each chapter is also filled with interesting examples that help you see how each principle can be applied. By the end of the book, I had little doubt that these are six important dimensions of human interaction.
I highly recommend this book to all professionals. It does not matter if you are a manager, sales person, pastor, or non-profit volunteer. The ideas in this book, once applied, will make it easier for you to accomplish your goals. In a video featuring the author, Professor Cialdini even goes so far as to promise that these principles can help you influence the most resistant of all audiences--your children.
With a claim like that, who wouldn't be intrigued?
My advice is to read this sooner rather than later. You will be quite glad you did.
on January 2, 2003
Most books of applied psychology fall prey to one of two weaknesses: Either they lack scientific content (or over-simplify) or they present solid information in an academic manner that readers find difficult to absorb and apply. Robert Cialdini's book stands out brilliantly from these books. Combining wide and deep scientific scholarship with an engaging, lucid, and personal style, Influence may be the single best work on the topic. The intent of the book is to show how we can understand and defend against pervasive non-rational influences on our decision-making. Of course the same principles could be applied to market products or influence colleagues and rivals either in place of or in addition to genuine reasons. One sign of the range of the book is the fact that Cialdini doesn't get to the famous Milgram experiment on "Obedience to Authority" until p.208. The book concentrates on several factors that evolution and culture have drilled into us to produce compliance for good reasons, but which can be abused by "compliance professionals": reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity. Any reader will find the research results stunning and frightening. Fortunately, Cialdini concludes each compelling chapter with hints on "How to say no". No matter how intelligent you are, you have undoubtedly fallen for many of these techniques used deliberately or accidentally. How many poor business investment decisions, product purchases, or strategic moves have been influenced by non-rational factors? You have to read this book. Why? Because I've done you a favor with this review and you owe it to me; you can't say you're a rational person if you don't; everyone else is reading it; I'm attractive, friendly, well-dressed, similar to you, and you like me; I'm an psychology expert and I recommend it; and you need to buy it now before all copies are sold!