Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

  1. For years Cialdini studied which factors and techniques would induce people to say “yes” most of the time. He studied compliance professionals through participant observation and learned that six laws are used which correspond to human psychology. These laws are used (often maliciously) to get people to say “yes” without thinking.
Key Takeaways
  1. There are 6 weapons of influence – RCLASS
    1. Reciprocation
    2. Commitment and consistency
    3. Liking
    4. Authority
    5. Social Proof
    6. Scarcity
What I got out of it
  1. Fantastic book which explains the various influences which we can use (or can be used against us) to get others to agree. These influences can be used for good purposes or deceptively but they are designed to get past our rational brain and attack our automatic responses. Cialdini uses a great term, “click, whirr” to show when this automatic process is being used. Highly recommended

Chapter 1 – Weapons of Influence
  • Mother turkey and nature – proven that mother turkeys respond to the “click” sound of their chicks even if comes from an animal who is usually a predator. 6 Cialdini refers to this blind, mechanical pattern of action as click, whirr
  • Automatic behavior patterns make us very vulnerable as they can be taken advantage of, often without our noticing
  • Contrast Effect – same thing can seem different depending on what preceded it
Chapter 2 – Reciprocation
  • Rule of reciprocity – people will repay any favor ever done to them. Universal and even the smallest favor elicits a repayment attitude
  • Don’t accept anything for free, or at least realize you will feel like you owe them something
  • Can use to get asymmetric favors done for you as it is uncomfortable for people to feel like they are in “debt”
  • Mutual concession automatic too – move from big to small favor and usually other person will acquiesce
  • Rejection then retreat technique – start asking for something big and then tone down. It can still be big request, just smaller than first
  • Return favors with favors, tricks deserve no favors
  • People who are surprised are more likely to comply
  • People like you less if you don’t allow them to reciprocate
Chapter 3 – Commitment and Consistency
  • People have a deep desire to remain consistent to their previous commitments. It is a central motivator of behavior
  • Start small and build in order to get the most out of people
  • Be careful about agreeing to trivial requests as this can lead you down a dark road
  • A man judges himself and others by his deeds, more so than words
  • Any goal you have, make sure to write it down and even share it – the more public the better (pair with Stickk)
  • The more effort a commitment takes, the more it influences the attitude of that person
  • Active, public, effortful behavior causes the highest commitment
  • For long-term behavior change, can’t bribe, must convince
  • Lowball technique – start with a low initial price but renege at the very end
  • Listen to stomach to know when you are in an uncomfortable situation
Chapter 4 – Social Proof
  • People tend to determine what is correct by seeing what others think is correct. The more people you see react in a certain way, the more powerful
    • Canned laughter used because it increases the audience’s humorous appreciation
  • What we prefer to be true will seem true
  • When uncertain, we rely more on what others do
  • Suicide social proof – there are typically more suicides after a very public suicide
  • Impossible to single-handedly lead – need accomplice of a lower rank
  • Must recognize when automatic thought processes are being taken advantage of
  • Believe if crowd is acting a certain way, it has better info than we do but that is rarely the case
Chapter 5 – Liking
  • People prefer to say yes to requests as it leads to others liking them
    • Tupperware parties are a prime compliance setting
  • Liking can’t be stressed enough.
  • Factors which effect liking:
    • Being good looking (halo effect)
    • Similarity (dress, background, education, etc.)
    • Compliments – one of most successful car salesman ever sent hundreds of thousands of cards simply saying “I like you.”
    • Contact and cooperation
    • Conditioning and association (dislike those with bad news)
  • More likely to like those who feed us
  • Big mistakes often occur when we are fond of person making the requests
  • Flattery, even if false, works very often
  • Deliver good news as often as possible and be wary the company you keep
  • Sports fans so passionate about their teams because their identity is linked to the team, their “self” is at stake
  • When one’s pride is low, want to associate more with success – these people insecure as their worth comes extrinsically
  • If like someone too much, be wary as they may be using some of these tactics against you
    • Separate the person from what they are selling
Chapter 6 – Authority
  • Obedience to authority rarely takes conscious deliberation
  • Milgram shock experiment – people can do terrible things because they are simply obeying authority and not thinking
  • Often react only to part of a situation, not seeing the whole picture
  • Size and status are closely linked
  • To protect yourself, remove the element of surprise as much as possible
  • Factors of authority
    • Appearance of authority often enough (titles, clothes…). Symbol is often more powerful than substance
    • Larger signature linked with more important status
  • Ask yourself is the authority is truly an expert before obeying and how likely it is that they’re being untruthful for their advantage. Think of commercials with actors who are not experts in whatever it is they are trying to sell
  • Use this in your favor by showing that you have other people’s best intentions in mind. Honest and knowledgeable people have more credibility and that leads to people trusting you
Chapter 7 – Scarcity
  1. Potential loss plays a huge role in our decisions
  2. Rarity leads to people valuing whatever it is higher than they otherwise would
  3. Deadline tactic – get people to act quickly by creating an artificial deadline
  4. People hate to lose freedoms they already have
    • Freedoms, once guaranteed, won’t be given up without a fight
    • Revolutions more common after good times followed quickly by bad times
  5. People assign (overly) positive qualities to justify their desires
  6. When information is censored, we not only want it more but believe it more before we even get it
    • Value banned information and more favorable to it
  7. Going from abundance to scarcity leads to higher appreciation than constant scarcity
  8. Scarce things due to social demand are more highly valued
  9. Beware situations with scarcity and rivalry
  10. In these emotional situations, reason goes out the door
  11. Joy lies not in experiencing the scarce commodity, but possessing it
  12. Be aware of arousal from scarcity and stop to think – do I really want to use it or want to have it?
  1. Understand these deeply embedded parts of human nature and you will be better protected to people hijacking your psychology. Understand how you take shortcuts and when there is an attack on them, we must retaliate in order to save our world and keep our shortcuts reliable