Book Review: Influence - by Robert Cialdini


It’s a book on the psychology of persuasion, very much targeted at people involved in sales and/or marketing, but I guess more widely, organisations seeking volunteers or anyone who needs to persuade other people.

Key points:

  • If you ask someone to do you a favor it’s better if you provide a reason. The word “because” triggers compliance.

  • “Civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them.” - Alfred North Whitehead

  • The rule for reciprocation - we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us. The obligation to receive reduces our ability to choose who we are in debt to.

  • People will often avoid asking for a needed favor if they will not be in a position to repay it. The rule for reciprocation governs the compromise process, so it is possible to use an initial concession as part of a compliance technique.

  • Rejection-then-retreat. Strategy of starting with an extreme demand and then retreating to a more moderate one.

  • Once a stand has been taken, the need for consistency causes people to bring what they believe in line with what they did. They convince themselves that they made the right choice.

  • But because it is so typically in our best interests to be consistent, we easily fall into the habit of being automatically so, even in situations where it is not the sensible way to be.

  • Whenever someone takes a visible position there is a need maintain that, to look like a consistent person.

  • We should never bribe or threaten our children to do the things we want them truly to believe in.

  • People are more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.

  • Convince customers of an item’s scarcity and thereby increase its immediate value in their eyes.

  • Tendency to want what has been banned and therefore to presume that it is more worthwhile.

  • Revolutions happen where a period of improving economic and social conditions is followed by a short, sharp reversal in those conditions.