Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Robert Cialdini

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“I wondered why it is that a request stated in certain way will be rejected, while a request that asks for the same favor in a slighty different fashion will be successful.”

Weapons of Influence

If we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason.

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Printer because I’m in a rush ?” Effectiveness 94%

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Printer ?” Effetiveness 60%

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Printer because I have to make some copies ?” Effectiveness 93%

Customers with little knowledge use strandard principle : expensive = good

“You get what you pay for.”

The contrast principle is well established in the field of psychophysics and applies to all sorts of perceptions besides weight. If we are talking to a beautiful woman at a coctail party and are then joined by an unattractive one, the second woman will strike us as less attractive than she actually is.

“The interesting thing is that even when a man entres a clothing store with the express purpose of purchasing a suit, he will almost always pay more for whatever accessories he buys if he buys them after the suit purchase than before.”

A real estate agent watches his prospects’ eyes light up when he showed the place he really wanted to sell them after they had seen the run-down houses. “The house I got them spotted for looks really great after they’ve first looked at a couple of dumps.”


The rule for reciprocation says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us. If a woman does us a favor, we should do her one in return; if a man sends us a birthday present, we should remember his birthday with a gift of our own; if a couple invites us to a party, we should be sure to invite them to one of ours.

For those who owed him a favor, it made no difference whether they liked him or not; they felt a sense of obligation to repay him, and they did. The subject in that condition who indicated that they disliked Joe bought just as many of his tickets as did those who indicated that they liked him. The rule for reciprocity was so strong that it simply overwhelmed the influence of a factor—liking for the requester—that normally affects the decision to comply.

People we might ordinarily dislike—unsavory or unwelcome sales operators, disagreeable acquaintances, representatives of strange or unpopular organizations—can greatly increase the chance that we will do what they wish merely by providing us with a small favor prior to their requests.

“FREE SAMPLE” As a marketing technique, the free sample has a long and effective history.

They beauty of the free sample, however, is that it is also a gift and, as such, can engage the reciprocity rule.

The rejection-then-retreat technique

Suppose you want me to agree to a certain request. One way to increase your chances would be first to make a larger request of me, one that I will most likely turn down. Then, after I have refused, you would make the smaller request that you were really interested in all along. Provided that you have structured your requests skillfully, I should view your second request as a concession to me and should feel inclined to respond with a concession of my own, the only one I would have immediately open to me-compliance with your second request.

Of course, the most important goal for a door-to-door salesperson is to make the sale. However, the training programs of each of the companies I inestigated emphasized that a second important goal was to obtain from prospects the names of referrals-friends, relatives, or neighbors on whom we could call. – Sales increases impresively when the sales operator is able to mention the name of a family person who “recommended” the sales visit.

Commitment and Consistency

People at racetrack: Just after placing a bet, they are much more confident of htier horse’s chances of winning than they are immediately before laying down that bet. Of course, nothing about horse’s chances actually shifts. Same horse, same track, same field…

They simply convinced themselves that htey had made the right choice and, no doubt, felt better about it all.

It is, quite simply, our nearly obsessive desire to be (and to apper) consistent with what we have already done. Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in waus that justify our earlier decision.

Indead, we all fool ourselves from time to time in order to keep our thoughts and beliefs consistent with what we have already done or decided.

Good personal consistency is highly valued in our culture. And well it should be. It provides us with a reasonable and gainful orientation to the world. Most of the time we will be better off if our approach to things is well laced with consistency. Without it our lives would be difficult, erratic, and disjointed.

“Quickly, quickly, walls againts reason are needed; and it doesn’t matter that the fortress to be erected is a foolish one. Quick, a hiding place from thought ! Here, take my money !! Whew, safe in the nick of time. No need to think about the issues any longer. The decision has been made, and from now on the consistency tape can be played whenewer necessary: TM (Trans. Meditation) ? Certainly I think it will help me; certainly I expect to continue; certainly I believe in TM. I already put my money down for it, didn’t I ?Ah, the comforts of mindless consistency. I’ll just rest right here for a while. It’s so much nicer than the worry and strain of that hard, hard search.”

For a salesperson, the strategy is to obtain a large purchase by starting with a small one. Almost any small sale will do, because the purpose of that small transaction is not profit. It is commitment.

Once an active commitment is made, then, self-image is squeezed from both sides by consistency pressures. From the inside, there is a pressure to bring self-image into line with action. From the outside, there is a sneakier pressure – a tendency to adjust this image according to the way others perceive us.

People personally put their commitments on paper: They live up to what they have written down.

One study of fifty- four tribal cultures found that those with the most dramatic and stringent initiation ceremonies were those with the greatest group solidarity.

The important thing is to use a reason that will initially produce the desired behavior and will, at the same time, allow a child to take personal responsibility for that behavior.

People appeared to have become committed to a choice through an initial inducement and were still more dedicated to it after the inducement had been removed.

How to say NO

“So I asked myself crucial question: Knowing what I know about the real price of this gasoline, if I could go back in time, would I make the same choice again ?”

“The reason this tactic worked so effectively is because once small commitments have been made (in this case, giving a kiss), people tend to add justifications to support the commitment and then are willing to commit themselves further. In this situation, I justified complying with the second request because it was consistent with my initial action. If I had only listened to my stomach signs, I could have saved myself a lot of humiliation.”

Social Proof

It states tha one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct.

Whether the question is what to do with an empty popcorn box in a movie theater, how fast to drive on a certain stretch of highway, or how to eat the chicken at a dinner party, the actions of those around us will be important in defining the answer.

“Look at the people who have decided to give. It must be the correct thing to do.”

“Creating long waiting lines outside when there was plenty of room inside.”

“Since 95% of the people are imitators and only 5% initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.”

Apparently the principle of social proof works best when the proof is provided by actions of a lot of other people.

In, general, when we are unsure of ourselves, when the situation is unclear or ambiguous, when uncertainty regins, we are most likely to look to and accept the actions of others as correct.

“In their first experiment, a New York college student who appeared to be having an epileptic seizure received help 85% of the time when there was a single bystander present but only 31% of the time with five bystanders present.”

The principle of social proof operates most powerfully when we are observing the behavior of people just like us. We are more inclined to follow the lead of a similar individual than a dissimilar one.

“That’s why I believe we are seeing an increasing number of average-person-on-the-street testimonials on TV these days. Advertisers now know that one successful way to sell a product to ordinary viewers is to demonstrate that other “ordinary” people like and use it.”

“Well, I’m three years old, and Tommy is three years old. And Tommy can swim without a ring, so that means I can too.”


The main work of a trial attorney is to make a jury like his clients.

We most prefer to say yes to the requests of someone we know and like. What might be starling to note, however, is that this simple rule is used in hundreds of ways by total strangers to get us to comply with their request.

Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence.

One of the most influential is similarity. We like people who are similar to us.

Often we don’t realize that our attitude toward something has been influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past.

New-car salesman who takes our side and “does battle” with his boss to secure us a good deal.

An innocent association with either bad things or good things will influence how people feel about us.

The liking of celebrities to products is another way advertisers cash in on the association principle.

The important thing for the advertiser is to establish the connection; it doesn’t have to be a logical one, just a positive one.

So we want our affiliated sports teams to win to prove our own superiority. But to whom are we trying to prove it ? Ourselves, certainly, but to everyone else, too.


We have to be sensitive to only one thing related to liking in our contacts with comliance practitioners: the feeling that we have come to like the practitioner more quickly or more deeply than we would have expected.

“In the twenty minutes I’ve known this guy, have I come to like him more than I would have expected ?”


Tv commercial featuring actor Robert counseling people againts the dangers of caffeine and recommending caffeine-free brand coffee.The commercial was successful, selling so much coffee that it was played for years in several version. Why would we take Robert word for the health consequences of decaffeinated coffee ? Because – as the advertising agency that hired him knew perfectly well- he is assoiated in the minds of the American public with Marcus Welby, M.D., the role he played in an earlier long-running television series.


Titles are simultaneously the most difficult and the easiest symbols of authority to acquire.

In one experiment on college students, a man was introduced as a visitor from Cambridge school. His status was represented differently in each of the classes. Like a student, demonstrator, lecturer and proffesor. After he left the room, each class was asked to estimate his height. It was found that with each increase in status, the same man grew in perceived heingt by an avarage of a half inch, so that as the “professor” he was seen as two and half inches taller than as the “student”.

In judging the size of coins, for example, children most overestimate the size of the more valuable coins.


the power of the uniform versus dressed normally


The experimenters discovered that motorists would wait significantly longer before honking their horns at a new, luxury car stopped in front of green traffic light than at an older, economy model.


The first is to ask, when we are confroted with what appears to be an authority figure’s influence attempt, “Is this authority really expert ?”

Ask authority’s credentials and the relevance of those credentials to the topic at hand.


The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost

The idea of potential loss plays a large role in human decision making.

Probably the most straightforward use of the scarcity principle occurs in the “limited-number” tactic, when the customer is informed that a certain product is in short supply that cannot be guaranteed to last long.

In accord with the cracity principle, the customers are aksed to commit to buying the applicance when it looks least available – and therefore most desirable.

People frequently find themselves doing what they wouldn’t particulary care to do simple because the time to do so is shrinking.

extreme example ” Exclusive, limited engagement ends soon.”

“Keep the prospects from taking the time to think the deal over by scaring them into believing they can’t have it later, which makes them want it now.”

Secondary source of power within the scarcity principle: As opportunities become less available, we lose freedoms; and we hate to lose the freedoms we already have.

Whenever free choice is limited or threatened, the need to retain our freedoms makes us desire them significantly more than previously.

The feeling to being in competition for scarce resource has powerfully motivating properties.

The joy is not in experiencing a scarce commodity but in possessing it. It is important than we not cofuse the two.

The psychology of the situation changed radically, however, when the second buyer drove up. The availability of the car to either prospect suddenly became limited by the presence of the other.

We are likely to use these lone cues when we don’t have the inclination, time, energy, or cognitive resources to undertake a complete analysis of the situation. Where we are rushed, stressed, uncertain, indifferent, distracted, or fatigued, we tend to focus on less of the information available to us.

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