Business Book Review: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

My friend Amir Sorhan Karimloo recently summarized the golden nuggets contained in one of my favorite sales and marketing  books. If your job involves getting people to go places, do things, and/0r buy things, I highly recommend giving Sorhan’s notes and Cialdini’s book a read or ten. This book is foundational. – David Flash, Editor

screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-12-32-21-amBy Sorhan Karimloo, TAMU eSociety Book Club

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is highly recommended and essential for anyone interested in changing minds. We often don’t realize that our attitude toward events has been influenced by a number of external factors without our conscious awareness. A vast body of scientific suggestion now exists on how, when, and why people say yes to influence attempts. In this book, Robert Cialdini describes six universal principles that influence our behavior:

Reciprocity: If I do something for you then you must do what I ask of you.
Scarcity: People find objects and opportunities more attractive to the degree that they are scarce, rare, or dwindling in availability. If I can’t have it, I want it.
Liking: People prefer to say yes to those they know and like.
Authority: People are more willing to follow the directions or recommendations of a person to whom they attribute authority or expertise.
Social proof: People are more willing to take a recommended action if they see evidence that many others in the group are taking it; if we do not know what to do we look to other people.
Consistency bias: People are more willing to take a recommended action if they see it as consistent with an existing or recent commitment; If I say something I will likely act in a way consistent with that commitment.

These formidable bodies of work are so powerful that they generate desirable change in the widest range of circumstances. I’ve read a fair amount of the literature about group dynamics and social influence. While I was familiar with some of these principles, I am pleasantly surprised that I didn’t know most of it. This book contains excellent descriptions of each of these powerful principles, complete with explanations. What makes the book interesting is the additional research including the surveys showing that people ARE in fact completely unaware that they’re doing it.

When asked about an experiment, they will insist that the given technique won’t work, but when actually involved in the experiment, will fall for it almost every time. Cialdini brings the Psychology of Persuasion to the masses in a well-articulated, well referenced, book. Definitely worth reading!

Influence quotes:

“A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”

“Embarrassment is a villain to be crushed.”

“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.”

“persons who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with a minimum of effort.”

“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”

“The customers, mostly well-to-do vacationers with little knowledge of turquoise, were using a standard principle—a stereotype—to guide their buying: “expensive = good.”  

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

“As a general rule, whenever the dust settles and we find losers looking and speaking like winners (and vice versa), we should be especially wary of the conditions that kicked up the dust—in”

“All things being equal, you root for your own sex, your own culture, your own locality…and what you want to prove is that you are better than the other person. Whomever you root for represents you; and when he wins, you win.”88”

“good-looking people are aware that other people’s positive evaluations of them are not based on their actual traits and abilities but are often caused by an attractiveness “halo”

“Apparently we have such an automatically positive reaction to compliments that we can fall victim to someone who uses them in an obvious attempt to win our favor.”


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