Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Author: Robert B Cialdini
Synopsis:

Recommended to me by a partner who has trained in NLP this is a fantastic book looking into the psychology of influence and in particular how it can be applied to improve sales.  Took me a while to read as there were so many notes I wanted to make as I went through it.  Will be of interest whether you are looking to improve sales of your products, protect your things at a beach or raising children to take responsibility

Intro – 
+ 6 categories – each governed by fundamental psychological principal that directs human behaviour:
     – Consistency
     – Reciprocity
     – Social Proof
     – Authority
     – Liking
     – Scarcity
  -> each examined as to its ability to produce a distinct kind of automatic, mindless compliance to people
+ Self-interest not included but valid
     – seen as a motivational given, goes without saying

Chpt 1. Weapons of influence
Fixed action patterns: seemingly mechanical patterns of action
     – Turkey mother: mothering if chick ‘cheep-cheeps’, attack if not.  Always attack polecat but if ‘cheep-cheep’, mothers
-> fundamental characteristic = behaviours occur in virtually the same fashion and same order everytime
-> trigger features set them off: often only one tiny aspect of the totality e.g. shade of breast in blue throat bird 
Asking favours more successful w/ a reason
     – Ellen Langer (Harvard) jump queue to photocopy 5 pages: 94% w/ rush reason, 60% no reason, 93% w/ may i make some photocopies
Price = quality: price = trigger feature for quality, turquoise sales example
-> automatic stereotyped behaviour is prevalent in much of human action because in many cases it is the most efficient form of behaving and in others it is simply necessary
     – Alfred Whitehead, “civilisation advances by extending the # of operations we can perform without thinking about them”
     – discount coupon same response when no savings vs. substantial savings
Animal examples:
     – Photuris firefly females kill Photinus males by imitating that genus’ females blinking courtship code
     – Saber-toothed blenny: apes dentist fish to take chunks from gruper
Components of weapons of influence:
1. Mechanical process
2. Ability to exploit if know the trigger
3. If know the right situation and trigger correctly => manipulating without seeming to
Contrast principle 
Physical attractiveness of opposite sex whilst watching Charlie’s Angels
Waterbath test: hand in hot and cold, then both in lukewarm
Retailers: sell expensive item first then accessories after e.g. suits, cars and options
Estate agents crap properties then decent

Chpt 2. Reciprocation
Reciprocation: we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us
-> Alvin Gouldner; no human society without it (=> society advance & competitive advantage, Tiger & Fox)
     – Ethiopia famine and yet sent $5k to Mexican post earthquake
     – University professor sending cards to perfect strangers, great majority return cards
     – Dennis Regan (Colombia) ask indiv who done/not done a favour to, to buy tickets. Done favour 2x tickets
The Rule is Overpowering:
     – Regan experiment then showed like/dislike of person who gave favour made no difference, still felt obligation
     – Hare Krishna and gift giving
     – Lyndon Johnson vs. Jimmy Carter and getting programs through
     – Charles H. Keating Jr $1.3m to 5 senators “I want to say in the most forceful way I can: I certainly hope so”
Merchandising:
     – Free sample e.g. Amway BUG left with homeowner for 24-48 hours to try
The Rule Enforces Uninvited Debts
Not necessary to request favour to feel indebted
Obligation to receive that makes the rule so easy to exploit e.g. Hare Krishna and free flowers

Chpt. 3 Commitment and Consistency
Desire to be consistent with actions: people much more confident just after placing a bet than immediately before = social influence
     -> can cause us to act in ways that are contrary to our own best interests
     1.  ‘Thefts on a NYC beach’ (T. Moriarty) – mock thefts on a person’s unattended things left near someone
          – 4/20 stopped the thief normal situation
          – 19/20 if asked someone to watch their things
          – Why do people act like this?
               a. High degree of consistency of words and actions associated with high personal and intellectual strength
               b. Often => greater benefits therefore becomes automatic action
                    “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labour of thinking”, Sir Joshua Reynolds
               c. If not auto => unwelcome answers and troubling realisations
                    – Transcendental mediations – voice of reason => signup at end of session before ppl understand the logic and lose hope
     2. Toy manufacturers take advantage
          a. Advertise toy pre Christmas => parents promising to kids
          b. Sold out in stores
          c. Readvertise post Christmas => parents buy so seem consistent and not promise breakers
Commitment is the key: make people make a stand on record
     A. Act of commitment makes a huge differenece
          – Call first, predict what they would say re charity volunteers, then pop round and ask => 700% increase
          – wording can make a big difference to responses to supporting Hunger Relief
               – Just ask for donation  vs. Q. How you feeling? Response. Then same speil 18-32% response, then due to consistency rule 89% people bought
               – I hope you are well vs. How are you feeling? tested => 15% vs 33%
          – extra effort (even just writing commitment) is effective as = more work
– Foot in the door technique (Freedmand and Fraser)
          – Billboards: billboard in garden norm 83% decline, 2 weeks earlier make commitment to road safety (3 inch sign) 76% offered to do so 50% then agreed to billboard after signing up to another public service topic (keeping area beautiful) as people changed view of themselves to an active person   
          – Chinese and US PoW – start small & build, write commitments then copy them, essay comps winner = pro Chinese/pro Am with concessions
          – Amway: get people to fill in sales form themselves => less chance give back even when hard sale
     B. Public commitments tend to be lasting ones => drive to maintain
          – # lines committed to publicly, privately and not (Deutsch & Gerard) => diminishing loyalty when given evidence that info wrong
          – jurors show this, weightloss works when publicly committed to
     C. Effortful commitments more effective
          – Hazing/initiation rites – ppl who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than those who attain w/ min of effort (E. Aronson & J. Mills)
               -> tested w/ initiations of varying levels pain/embarressment
=> 3 commitment most effective when:
     1. Active
     2. Public
     3. Effortful
Inner responsibility
     – want ppl to own responsibility for their actions -> inner responsibility comes when absence of strong outside pressures (don’t bribe children heavily)
     – Banning robot experiment (Freeman)
          – Threaten children not to 21/22 didn’t -> 6 weeks later 77% did
          – Told children wrong to play with 21/22 didn’t -> 6 weeks later 33% did
     – once ppl take inner responsibility they built struts to support it
          – hence technique of low balling by car salesmen (adv offered, once decision made pre signing, adv taken away)
Avoiding falling for the above
     – Listen to rapid inner feeling “If I know what I do now & could go back in time, would I do the same again?”
Chpt 4. Social proof
– a means of determining what is correct by assessing what others think/do
     – seems more correct the more ppl doing it e.g. salt tip jars/church collection, title product ‘best selling’
     – 95% ppl imitators & 5% initiators -> most ppl persuaded more by actions of others than any proof we can other
     – dog phobia experiment – person with phobia watch ppl/film clip someone playing happily with dog 20 mins/day => reduction phobia
          – best done with variety of ppl
          – O’Connor did w/ withdrawn preschool children 23min film => involved even 6 weeks after viewing
     – Apocalypse scenarios/cults: Festinger, Riecken & Schachter – typical actions & reasoning when doesn’t become true
          1. High level commitment; take irrevocable steps 
          2. Little done to spread the word
          3. Once disconfirmed sought publicity
               -> made huge commitment => taken away (no physical proof) => needed offer proof from their actions – social proof can provide this
– Drivers of social proof:
Uncertainty
     – when uncertain most likely to look to social proof
     – pluralistic ignorance: can explain failure to help others
          a. not ‘someone else will call’
          b. but as uncertain look to others for clues, to learn from others behaviour whether emergency or not
          -> experiments show group effect is key and that actions of others large influencer
               – Epileptic emergencies – Latane & Dorley: when single person 85% occasions help given but only 31% when 5 or more bystanders
               – Separately shown if others remain passive, likely you will
          -> how to summon help:
               – if ppl convinced help needed will assist
               – amongst strangers ppl least likely to help
               => pick a person and tell them directly what they need to do
Similarity
     – more likely to follow similar ppl to us
     – Wallet experiment: 33% helped forward when note apparently from foreigner, 70% when American
     – Werner effect: after front page suicide – suicides rise as do the no. accidental deaths
          – could be subtle ways of killing oneself (preserve reputation, family) – ages of accidental deaths similar to suicide and link with no. ppl
          – seen with aggression: post World Champ boxing matches – homicides rise.  If white lost – more white homicide vice versa with black
               -> can explain Nazism and ppl doing nothing
     – Historical precedent of social proof seen in Sauton & Porter’s claquing business for opera in C18-19

Chpt 5. Liking
– prefer to say yes to someone we know and like 
     – e.g. success of Tupperware parties (gifts to all, public commitment, social proof) but because of social bond  2x more likely to product purchase vs preference for product itself
     – often just mention of friend’s name is enough
     – but otherwise the salesman must make the client like him
– what are the factors that cause one person to like another
Physical attractiveness
     – ‘Halo effects’ – postive characteristic of a person dominates way viewed by others e.g. Warren Harding. Associate good looking ppl w/ favourable traits
     – Canadian federal elections: attractive candidates 2.5x votes of unattractive but 73% argued this wasn’t the case. Also handsome men lighter sentences
Similarity
     – Like ppl who are similar whether opinions, personality traits, background or lifestyle
     – Dress and dime for phone request: when dressed similar (hippy vs straight) 66% compliance vs. <50% when different
          -> sales programmes urge trainees to ‘mirror & match’ customer’s body posture, mood and verbal style
Compliments
     – info that someone fancies you can be beguiling 
     – Joe Girard (world’s top car salesman) each month sent every one of his 13,000 former colleagues a holiday greeting card containing a personal mesage
     – Study on impact praise showed: 
          a. evaluator who praised most liked
          b. even tho ppl realised he had something to gain
          c. praise did not have to be accurate/true to work
Contact and cooperation
     – like what is familiar – experiment flashing faces on screen -> more saw face more liked person subsequently met -> more influenced by their opinions
          -> if exposed under unpleasant conditions => less liking
     – Off to camp (Sheif): separating groups into two cabins => rivalry, assigning names accelerates, biggest impact was competition =>  disharmony (BBro)
          -> to resolve created conditions where competition wuld hv harmed all & coop mutually beneficial
          -> useful in schooling: cooperative
Conditioning and association
     – ‘The nature of bad news infects the teller’ – simple association is enough to stimulate our dislike
     – New car ad with attractive model – men rated it as faster, expensive looking etc than men who viewed minus model then refused to believe the women affected their judgments -> linking with celebrities (even politicians do so in elections) and events (e.g. Olympics) also works
          -> linking doesn’t have to be logical, just positive (Labour missed this w/ ‘Fire up the quattro, it’s time for change’)
     – Razran found ppl became fonder of ppl and things they experienced while eating, showed only political statements shown whilst eating given approval
          -> food engenders good and positive feeling => positive by association
     – Association principle can explain a lot strange behaviour; ppl trying to link to positive events and distance from negative
          – Sports fans ‘whoever you root for represents you; and when he wins, you win”, Asimov
          – If can surround ourselves with success that connected w/ in even superficial way – public prestige will rise
               -> seek to do so when personal prestige is low (art?)
          – more shirts worn Monday am when teams successful at weekend, more shirts if greater margin of victory
Avoid above
     – recognise when liking more than should in circumstance
Chpt 6. Authority
     – Obedience to authority is incredibly powerful
          – Miligram experiment: teachers provide shocks to learners when fail question => despite ‘screams’ 66% pulled final switch to administer 450v
               – Not until leaver screamed after 200v did anyone stop
               – shown to be representative; sex, education etc. irrelevant
               -> when researcher asks to stop despite learner wanting to continue teacher stopped
               -> when researcher in chair and fellow learners said do it, ppl didn’t
               -> when 2 researchers w/ different views teacher stopped
     – Authority ingrained (Bible, Schools) from when young & can become automatic
     – Often as vulnerable to symbols of authority as much as substance e.g.
          – Titles: Tim Ferris suggestion of acquiring online
               – Professors often find ppl speak differently to them
               – Prestigious titles => perception of height distorted
                    – Student -> Demonstrator -> Lecturer -> Senior Lectrurer -> Professor => 0.5 inch difference w/ Professors seen as 2.5 inches taller students
               – As size and status related can use one to assume other: 95% nurses obeyed phone Dr tho 4 reasons they shouldn’t (incl > max dosage allowed)
          – Clothes (Bickman): request you give a dime to a person, youngster asks 42% compliance, security guard in uniform 92%
          – Trappings: expensive => aura of status & position
               – expensive car => larger waiting pre honk, 50% await until drove off

Chpt 7. Scarcity
     – When talking to someone, even if interesting, will answer phonecalls d2 potential unavailability
     – Human more driven by how much we could lose than how much we could gain
          e.g. lose years off life by not exercising stronger message than gain years by doing so
          – Limitation: sales technique – that’s a gr8 model @ gr8 price but I sold last one 20 mins ago, I could check in the back
          – Deadlines: gym deal only available today (why not clocks on website)
     – Reason: often difficult to possess typically better than easy, shortage of availability often sign of worth
          – As opportunities decrease availability => loss of freedoms & hate to lose these
          = Psychological reactance (Brehm): if freedom of choice threatened, need to retain freedoms makes us desire them significantly more than previously
               – seen in 3rd yr life (terrible twos): outright defiance to limitation of their freedoms
               – d2 dev of individuality & therefore as a being they want to explore length & breadth of their options and discover what can & can’t control
               – teenage likewise
     – Scarcity => increased desire &  to make sense of this and assign it positive qualities
          – Also; if info censored not only want it more but also believe it more if haven’t received it
               – N. Carolina student told speech opposing coed dorms banned => more opposed to it (benefit of freedom of speech)
               – But: impact on courtroom juries gr8er benefit given to victim if perpetrator insured (+4k) and even greater if judge says to ignore this fact (+13k)
               – Find info more persuasive if believe can’t get it elsewhere
                    – beef
                    – beef but scarce = 2x sales
                    – beef but scarce, exclusive news = x6 sales
     – Cookie test (Wordel)
          – Preference for cookies increased with scarcity 1/10 vs. 1/2
          – If showed 10 then gave choice of 1/2 greater preference than 1/2 at beginning
          – If told change due to social demand (rather than mistake) most preference
               
               -> But not increase in taste only preference and willingness to pay more
          – Revolutions seen when give benefits (economic, political) then sudden reversal e.g. eco shock/crackdown, same with kids -> must be consistent

Epilogue. Instant Influence
     – An isolated piece of evidence can => student inferences
          -> Groupon: click whirr = scarcity & time limited
     – Growth knowledge (90% scientists who ever lived are working today) => need for synthesis (Tim Ferris) and aggregation
     – Hit become bigger because more choice therefore people look for auto clues e.g. social proof

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