Influence by Robert B. Cialdini

Rocky Warren
Rocky Warren
February 3, 20219 min read
  • Rating: 4/5
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  • Thousands of different tactics compliance practitioners employ to produce yes. Majority fall within six categories. Each governed by fundamental psychological principle directing human behavior
  • Automatic, fixed-action patterns of animals work well great majority of time. Takes trickster to make natural response seem silly.
  • Retail: Might balk at idea of spending $95 for sweater, but if you just bought $495 suit, sweater doesn't seem excessive. "The interesting thing is that even when a man enters 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."
  • Real estate: When showing customers new houses, started with undesirable "setup" properties maintained by company at inflated prices so genuine properties in would benefit from comparison.
  • Automobile dealers: use contrast principle by waiting until price negotiated before suggesting options. After $15k deal, hundreds of dollars seems trivial.

1. Reciprocation

  • Obligated to future repayment of favors, gifts, invitations, and the like.
  • Possesses awesome strength, often producing "yes" response to request that, except for existing feeling of indebtedness, would have surely been refused. Even if they dislike you and even if return favor is substantially larger.
  • Often asymmetrical, can choose initial favor and form of return favor like Hare Krishna Society members' flowers for donations. Could say no to both of offers, but can sometimes be tough choices due to cultural pressure to reciprocate.
  • Another consequence of rule: obligation to make concession to someone who has made concession to us. Leads to rejection-then-retreat technique: to increase chances I'll agree to something, make larger request I'm likely to turn down. Then, after refusal, make smaller request you wanted all along. I'll view second as concession to me and feel inclined accept.
  • Larger initial request, more effective procedure, but only up to point. If seen as unreasonable, it backfires. Con artist aims for exaggerated enough to allow for series of reciprocal concessions yielding desirable final offer, yet not so outlandish as to be seen as illegitimate.
  • People who wouldn't otherwise subject friends sales presentation agree to supply referrals when presented as concession from purchase request they've just refused. Note: Has to be phrased as concession.
  • Strangely enough, then, rejection-then-retreat spurs people not only to agree to desired request but actually carry it out and even volunteer to perform further requests.
  • Requester's concession not only causes targets to say yes more often, it also causes them to feel more responsible for having "dictated" the final agreement, feel responsible for terms of contract and live up to it.
  • Accept desirable first offers of others but accept offers only for what they fundamentally are, not for what they are represented to be. If initial favor turns out to be trick designed to stimulate compliance with return favor, recognize and refuse. Favors are met with favors; tricks are not.

2. Commitment and Consistency

  • After making choice or taking stand, encounter personal/interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment and respond in ways justifying earlier decision. The more public a stand, more reluctant we are to change it.
  • 4/20 tried to stop thief at beach. However, if accomplice asked subject to "watch my things," 19/20 became virtual vigilantes, running after/stopping thief, demanding explanation, and often physically restraining.
  • Transcendental meditation seminar, author's colleague completely refuted core premise, which caused MORE people to sign up. Explanation: desperately seeking solution to problems. Found potential solution in TM and wanted to believe. When voice of reason intruded, panic! Signed up before logic took hold and they were, again, left without hope. "Quick, a hiding place from thought! Here, take this 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 whenever necessary: 'TM? 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?'"
  • Volunteer went door-to-door asking to display three-inch-square sign reading BE A SAFE DRIVER, nearly all agreed. However, were later remarkably willing to comply with much larger sign, called foot-in-the-door tactic. Citizens into "public servants," prospects into "customers," prisoners into "collaborators." Once self-image is where you want it, they comply naturally with range of requests consistent with view of themselves.
  • Big companies run "100 words or less" testimonial contests, "Why I like…". Purpose: get as many people as possible to go on record as liking product.
  • Thonga tribesman watching sons tremble through nights in "yard of mysteries," college students enduring Hell Night not acts of sadism, but of group survival. Function to spur future members, oddly, to find group more attractive/worthwhile.
  • Social scientists have determined we accept inner responsibility for behavior when we think we have chosen to perform it in absence of strong outside pressures.
  • Lowballing: advantage offered inducing favorable purchase decision; then, sometime later, advantage deftly removed. Example: promise of newspaper publicity for low energy usage. Caused them to acquire new energy habits, feeling good about efforts, convincing themselves of need to reduce dependence on foreign fuel, began viewing themselves as conservation-minded.

3. Social Proof

  • Tendency to assume that action is more correct if others are doing it. Infomercials ("fastest-growing" or "largest-selling"), bartenders "salting" tip jars, etc.
  • Don't have to convince us product is good, only that many others think so
  • Researcher selected severely withdrawn children from preschools, showed them film of children own age interacting. Immediately began to interact with peers at equal level as others. Six weeks later, leading schools in social activity. Twenty-three-minute movie, viewed once, was enough to reverse pattern of lifelong maladaptive behavior.
  • Overarching need of cultists to cling to beliefs: "I have to believe the flood is coming because I've spent all my money. I quit my job, I quit computer school...I have to believe."
  • If they could spread Word, inform uninformed, persuade skeptics, and if, by so doing, they could win converts, threatened but treasured beliefs would become truer.
  • In times of uncertainty, tendency to look at actions of others for clues. Easy to forget everybody else is doing same thing. We prefer to appear poised among others, so interpreted as nonemergency and fail to act.
  • Research: 75 percent of lone individuals who observed smoke under door reported leak; however, in three-person groups, smoke reported only 38 percent of time. When two coached to ignore smoke, leaks reported only 10 percent of time.
  • Isolate one individual from crowd: Stare, speak, and point directly at person and no one else: "You, sir, in the blue jacket, I need help. Call an ambulance."
  • We use actions of others to decide proper behavior for ourselves, especially for those similar to ourselves. True for adults, teens, and children.

4. Authority

  • Physician ordered ear drops administered. Instead "right ear", abbreviated "place in R ear" Duty nurse promptly put required drops into patient's anus. Neither patient nor nurse questioned it.
  • Twenty-two separate nurses' stations, researchers made identical call. Identified himself as hospital physician, directed nurse to give drug to patient. (1) Prescription over phone, os violation of policy. (2) Medication unauthorized. (3) Dosage twice maximum dose. (4) Directive given by man nurse had never met/seen/talked to. 95 percent complied.
  • Clothing also has authority, both uniform and tailored business suit.
  • Waiter that received much larger tips: In larger groups, no matter what first person selected, he'd furrow brow, look quickly over shoulder for manager, lean toward table for all to hear, "I'm afraid that's not as good tonight as it normally is. Might I recommend instead the X or the Y?" (suggesting items about fifty cents less to gain trust) "They are both excellent tonight."

5. Liking

  • Good-looking people enjoy enormous social advantage in our culture: better liked, more persuasive, more frequently helped, seen as possessing better personality traits/intellectual capacities.
  • We like people who are similar to us in opinion, personality traits, background/interests, life-style, dress like us.
  • Sales training programs urge trainees to "mirror and match" customer's body posture, mood, and verbal style.
  • Praise does not have to be accurate to work. In study, positive comments produced just as much liking for flatterer when untrue or true.
  • Common goals between groups and cooperation required to achieve them allow rival group members to experience one another as reasonable fellows, valued helpers, and friends.
  • Good-looking models next to cars, etc. in ads lend their positive traits—beauty and desirability—to cars based on association with it. In study, men who saw new-car ad with model rated car as faster, more appealing, more expensive-looking, and better designed. Yet when asked later, didn't believe it had influence on judgments.
  • Subjects become fonder of people/things they experience while eating.
  • If you get feeling you've come to like someone more quickly/deeply than expected, consider there may be tactic at play.

6. Scarcity

  • As opportunities become less available, we lose freedoms; we hate losing freedoms we already have, need to retain makes us desire them (as well as associated goods/services) significantly more than previously.
  • Clever people holding weak/unpopular position (e.g., fringe political groups) can get us to agree by arranging to have message restricted. Most effective strategy: don't publicize unpopular view, get views officially censored, then publicize censorship.
  • Revolutions most likely where period of improving economic/social conditions followed by short, sharp reversal. People given taste of better life suddenly less available, they desire them more than ever and often rise up violently to secure them.