Influence by Robert Cialdini



In order to successfully market your product or ideas, you must first understand the psychology of persuasion. The ability to influence others is an essential skill in any environment.

15 lessons


– by Robert Cialdini –

1) People on auto-pilot are vulnerable to influence

Where we are rushed, stressed, uncertain, indifferent, distracted, or fatigued, we tend to focus on less of the information available to us. We can’t be expected to recognize and analyze all the aspects in each person, event, and situation we encounter in even one day.

2) We need mental shortcuts

We are likely to rely on shortcuts when we don’t have the inclination, time, energy, or cognitive resources to undertake a complete analysis of the situation. Instead, we must very often use our stereotypes, our rules of thumb to classify things according to a few key features and then to respond mindlessly when one or another of these trigger features is present.

3) Know the power of commitment bias

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 ways that justify our earlier decision. 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.

4) We feel obligated to reciprocate

By virtue of the reciprocity rule, we are obligated to the future repayment of favors, gifts, invitations, and the like. 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.

5) We imitate others because of social proof

One means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct. We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it. Especially when we’re uncertain, we’re more likely to use others’ actions to decide how we ourselves should act.

6) We listen to people we like

Few people would be surprised to learn that, as a rule, we most prefer to say yes to the requests of someone we know and like. What might be startling to note, however, is that this simple rule is used in hundreds of ways by total strangers to get us to comply with their requests.

7) We like people who are similar to us

This fact seems to hold true whether the similarity is in the area of opinions, personality traits, background, or lifestyle. For instance, people can manipulate us by claiming that they have backgrounds and interests similar to ours.

8) We generally like that which is familiar 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. But although the familiarity produced by contact usually leads to greater liking, the opposite occurs if the contact carries distasteful experiences with it.

9) Understand the association principle

The principle of association is a general one, governing both negative and positive connections. An innocent association with either bad things or good things will influence how people feel about us. A lot of strange behavior can be explained by the fact that people understand the association principle well enough to strive to link themselves to positive events and separate themselves from negative events – even when they have not caused the events.

10) People love complements

We are phenomenal suckers for flattery. Although there are limits to our gullibility – especially when we can be sure that the flatterer is trying to manipulate us – we tend, as a rule, to believe praise and to like those who provide it, often times when it is clearly false.

11) Attractive people have a social advantage

Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence. Furthermore, we make these judgments without being aware that physical attractiveness plays a role in the process.

12) We are predisposed to obey those in authority

Conforming to the dictates of authority figures has always had genuine practical advantages for us. Because their positions speak of superior access to information and power, it makes great sense to comply with the wishes of properly constituted authorities. It makes so much sense in fact, that we often do so when it makes no sense at all.

13) Titles and clothing give the impression of authority

Titles are simultaneously the most difficult and the easiest symbols of authority to acquire. To earn one normally takes years of work and achievement. Yet it is possible for somebody who has put in none of this effort to adopt the mere label and receive a kind of automatic deference. Wearing the right kind of clothing can also how powerful effects. For instance, people will treat you differently if you’re dressed like a doctor, police officer, or soldier.

14) If something is scarce, we want it more

The idea of potential loss plays a large role in human decision-making. In fact, people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value. Because we know that things which are difficult to possess are typically better than those that are easy to possess, we can often use an item’s availability to help us quickly and correctly decide on its quality. Thus, one reason for the potency of the scarcity principle is that, by following it, we are usually and efficiently right.

15) Understand the psychological reactance theory

Scarcity is powerful because 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. So when increasing scarcity interferes with our prior access to some item, we will react against the interference by wanting and trying to possess the item more than before.