Posted on Tue 04 November 2014

Reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

The theme of [cached]Influence is clear: unable to keep up with the onslaught of information and decisions we fall back to mental shortcuts and learned behavior.

Robert Cialdini orders them into six large groups:

  • Reciprocation. Giving a gift or doing a favor makes us much more likely to comply with a subsequent request, even if the favor was unwanted. The same concept applies to making an initial high demand and then "conceding" to a lower one. Example: charities giving you a free gift.
  • Commitment and Consistency. We will change our opinions and desires to be in line with our behavior; extracting initial admissions and behaviors can make us want to comply with later ones. Example: Claiming you would do public service when surveyed.
  • Social Proof. In uncertain situations we will look to others for guidance on how to behave. Example: Bystander effect, advertisements with "people from the street".
  • Liking. We are more likely to unquestioningly help our friends. Example: Overly friendly salesman that has suspiciously a lot of common interests.
  • Authority. Humans are prone to blindly following authority, doing things they would normally never do. Example: Milgram Experiment, doctors recommending a toothpaste.
  • Scarcity. We automatically desire goods in limited availability more, though we don't experience them as better. Example: closing sale.

Given their nature, we are especially vulnerable to these shortcuts under stress or when we are (mentally) exhausted - the time when we have the least energy for expensive rational thoughts.

Tags: books, rationality, psychology, life

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