Influence: Science and Practice

Author: Rober Cialdini
Reviewer: Bob Moore
Influence coverIn this bestselling book, Dr. Cialdini examines the science and practice of persuasion and compliance. Readers will discover the factors that cause someone to say yes and which techniques most effectively use these factors to bring about such compliance.In the field of influence and persuasion, Dr. Cialdini is the most cited living social psychologist in the world today. He is also the author of the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
The book Influence: Science and Practice has similar content but is designed as a textbook for classroom instruction.  Here is an overview of my discoveries from the eight chapters of Influence: Science and Practice which I hope will provide you with reasons to get the book and become a student of influence and persuasion—the essence of leadership.

Chapter 1. Weapons of Influence
People tend to automatically respond to certain triggers or fixed-action patterns which amounts to a short cut to the decision. Therefore, we can become vulnerable to anyone who knows how this weapon works.

Chapter 2. Reciprocation: The Old Give and Take, and Take
Reciprocation is one of the most potent of the weapons of influence. The rule requires that when provides us something, we should try to repay, in kind. Thus, a small initial favor can produce a sense of obligation to agree to a substantially larger return favor such as complying with their request.

Chapter 3. Commitment and Consistency: Hobgoblins of the Mind
Psychologists have long recognized a desire in most people to be and look consistent which is fueled by the following three sources:
  1.  Good consistency is highly valued by society.
  2.  Generally consistent conduct provides a beneficial approach to daily life.
  3. It affords a valuable shortcut through the complexity of modern existence.

Within the realm of compliance, the key is to secure an initial commitment.

Chapter 4. Social Proof: Truths Are Us
This principle states that we determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct. However, the following are two types of situations in which the principle of social proof can give us poor counsel and should never be trusted fully:
  1. The social evidence has been purposely falsified.
  2. We to assume that if a lot of people are doing the same thing, they must know something we don’t.


Chapter 5. Liking: The Friendly Thief

As a rule, we most prefer to say yes to the requests of people we know and like. The following five factors tend to cause a person to like another:

  1. Physical attractiveness
  2. Similarity
  3. Compliments
  4. Contact and cooperation
  5. Conditioning and association


Chapter 6. Authority: Directed Deference
There are three types of symbols of authority to which people are often as vulnerable to as they are to the substance:

  1. Title: It is possible for somebody to adopt the mere label and receive a kind of automatic deference.
  2. Clothes: The well-tailored business suit has traditionally indicated authority status in our culture.
  3. Trappings: Jewelry and cars tend to carry an aura of status and position.

We should ask ourselves these questions to determine when authority directives should and should not be followed. “Is this authority truly an expert?” “How truthful can we expect the expert to be?”


Chapter 7. Scarcity: The Rule of the Few
According to the scarcity principle, people assign more value to opportunities when they seem less available. Here are two tactics that are commonly employed.

  1. Limited Numbers: Customers are told a product is in short supply and may not last long.
  2. Time Limits: Some official time limit is placed on the customer’s opportunity to get what the offer.

Chapter 8. Instant Influence: Primitive Consent for an Automatic Age
Because of the increasing tendency for cognitive overload in our society, very often we only use a single piece of all of the relevant available information when we make a decision. The pace of modern life demands that we frequently use this shortcut despite the susceptibility to stupid decisions.

This book addresses one of the reasons I was interested in the topic of influence, “I want to avoid being exploited by ill-intentioned people.” Now I am more aware of the tactics I experience particularly social proof, authority, and scarcity. I am now better able recognize them and focus solely on the merits of the offer.

About the Author
Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. is a professor of social psychology with extensive scholarly training in the psychology of influence, together with over 30 years of research into the subject. Dr. Cialdini has an international reputation as an expert in the fields of persuasion, compliance, and negotiation. Harvard Business Review lists Dr. Cialdini’s research in “Breakthrough Ideas for Today’s Business Agenda.” In the field of influence and persuasion, Dr. Cialdini is the most cited living social psychologist in the world today.

Click here to order, Influence: Science & Practice, from Amazon:
Current price $18.01 (272 pages Paperback)

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