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Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

278 Pages · 2009 · 2.06 MB · English

  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

    INFLUENCE


    The Psychology


    of


    Persuasion


    ROBERT B. CIALDINI PH.D. This book is dedicated to Chris,


    who glows in his father’s eye Contents


    Introduction v


    1


    Weapons of Influence 1


    2


    Reciprocation: The Old Give and Take…and Take 13


    3


    Commitment and Consistency: Hobgoblins of the Mind 43


    4


    Social Proof: Truths Are Us 87


    5


    Liking: The Friendly Thief 126


    6


    Authority: Directed Deference 157


    7


    Scarcity: The Rule of the Few 178


    Epilogue Instant Influence:


    Primitive Consent for an Automatic Age 205


    Notes 211


    Bibliography 225


    Index 241


    Acknowledgments


    About the Author


    Cover


    Copyright


    About the Publisher INTRODUCTION


    I can admit it freely now. All my life I’ve been a patsy. For as long as I


    can recall, I’ve been an easy mark for the pitches of peddlers, fund-


    raisers, and operators of one sort or another. True, only some of these


    people have had dishonorable motives. The others—representatives of


    certain charitable agencies, for instance—have had the best of intentions.


    No matter. With personally disquieting frequency, I have always found


    myself in possession of unwanted magazine subscriptions or tickets to


    the sanitation workers’ ball. Probably this long-standing status as


    sucker accounts for my interest in the study of compliance: Just what


    are the factors that cause one person to say yes to another person? And


    which techniques most effectively use these factors to bring about such


    compliance? I wondered why it is that a request stated in a certain way


    will be rejected, while a request that asks for the same favor in a slightly


    different fashion will be successful.


    So in my role as an experimental social psychologist, I began to do


    research into the psychology of compliance. At first the research vi / Influence


    took the form of experiments performed, for the most part, in my


    laboratory and on college students. I wanted to find out which psycho-


    logical principles influence the tendency to comply with a request. Right


    now, psychologists know quite a bit about these principles—what they


    are and how they work. I have characterized such principles as weapons


    of influence and will report on some of the most important in the up-


    coming chapters.


    After a time, though, I began to realize that the experimental work,


    while necessary, wasn’t enough. It didn’t allow me to judge the import-


    ance of the principles in the world beyond the psychology building and


    the campus where I was examining them. It became clear that if I was


    to understand fully the psychològy of compliance, I would need to


    broaden my scope of investigation. I would need to look to the compli-


    ance professionals—the people who had been using the principles on


    me all my life. They know what works and what doesn’t; the law of


    survival of the fittest assures it. Their business is to make us comply,


    and their livelihoods depend on it. Those who don’t know how to get


    people to say yes soon fall away; those who do, stay and flourish.


    Of course, the compliance professionals aren’t the only ones who


    know about and use these principles to help them get their way. We


    all employ them and fall victim to them, to some degree, in our daily


    interactions with neighbors, friends, lovers, and offspring. But the


    compliance practitioners have much more than the vague and amateur-


    ish understanding of what works than the rest of us have. As I thought


    about it, I knew that they represented the richest vein of information


    about compliance available to me. For nearly three years, then, I com-


    bined my experimental studies with a decidedly more entertaining


    program of systematic immersion into the world of compliance profes-


    sionals—sales operators, fund-raisers, recruiters, advertisers, and others.


    The purpose was to observe, from the inside, the techniques and


    strategies most commonly and effectively used by a broad range of


    compliance practitioners. That program of observation sometimes took


    the form of interviews with the practitioners themselves and sometimes


    with the natural enemies (for example, police buncosquad officers,


    consumer agencies) of certain of the practitioners. At other times it in-


    volved an intensive examination of the written materials by which


    compliance techniques are passed down from one generation to anoth-


    er—sales manuals and the like.


    Most frequently, though, it has taken the form of participant observa-


    tion. Participant observation is a research approach in which the re-


    searcher becomes a spy of sorts. With disguised identity and intent, the


    investigator infiltrates the setting of interest and becomes a full-fledged Robert B. Cialdini Ph.D / vii


    participant in the group to be studied. So when I wanted to learn about


    the compliance tactics of encyclopedia (or vacuum-cleaner, or portrait-


    photography, or dance-lesson) sales organizations, I would answer a


    newspaper ad for sales trainees and have them teach me their methods.


    Using similar but not identical approaches, I was able to penetrate ad-


    vertising, public-relations, and fund-raising agencies to examine their


    techniques. Much of the evidence presented in this book, then, comes


    from my experience posing as a compliance professional, or aspiring


    professional, in a large variety of organizations dedicated to getting us


    to say yes.


    One aspect of what I learned in this three-year period of participant


    observation was most instructive. Although there are thousands of


    different tactics that compliance practitioners employ to produce yes,


    the majority fall within six basic categories. Each of these categories is


    governed by a fundamental psychological principle that directs human


    behavior and, in so doing, gives the tactics their power. The book is


    organized around these six principles, one to a chapter. The prin-


    ciples—consistency, reciprocation, social proof, authority, liking, and


    scarcity—are each discussed in terms of their function in the society


    and in terms of how their enormous force can be commissioned by a


    compliance professional who deftly incorporates them into requests


    for purchases, donations, concessions, votes, assent, etc. It is worthy of


    note that I have not included among the six principles the simple rule


    of material self-interest—that people want to get the most and pay the


    least for their choices. This omission does not stem from any perception


    on my part that the desire to maximize benefits and minimize costs is


    unimportant in driving our decisions. Nor does it come from any


    evidence I have that compliance professionals ignore the power of this


    rule. Quite the opposite: In my investigations, I frequently saw practi-


    tioners use (sometimes honestly, sometimes not) the compelling “I can


    give you a good deal” approach. I choose not to treat the material self-


    interest rule separately in this book because I see it as a motivational


    given, as a goes-without-saying factor that deserves acknowledgment


    but not extensive description.


    Finally, each principle is examined as to its ability to produce a distinct


    kind of automatic, mindless compliance from people, that is, a willing-


    ness to say yes without thinking first. The evidence suggests that the


    ever-accelerating pace and informational crush of modern life will make


    this particular form of unthinking compliance more and more prevalent


    in the future. It will be increasingly important for the society, therefore,


    to understand the how and why of automatic influence.


    It has been some time since the first edition of Influence was published. viii / Influence


    In the interim, some things have happened that I feel deserve a place


    in this new edition. First, we now know more about the influence


    process than before. The study of persuasion, compliance, and change


    has advanced, and the pages that follow have been adapted to reflect


    that progress. In addition to an overall update of the material, I have


    included a new feature that was stimulated by the responses of prior


    readers.


    That new feature highlights the experiences of individuals who have


    read Influence, recognized how one of the principles worked on (or for)


    them in a particular instance, and wrote to me describing the event.


    Their descriptions, which appear in the Reader’s Reports at the end of


    each chapter, illustrate how easily and frequently we can fall victim to


    the pull of the influence process in our everyday lives.


    I wish to thank the following individuals who—either directly or


    through their course instructors—contributed the Reader’s Reports


    used in this edition: Pat Bobbs, Mark Hastings, James Michaels, Paul


    R. Nail, Alan J. Resnik, Daryl Retzlaff, Dan Swift, and Karla Vasks. In


    addition, I would like to invite new readers to submit similar reports


    for possible publication in a future edition. They may be sent to me at


    the Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ


    85287-1104.


    —ROBERT B. CIALDINI Chapter 1


    WEAPONS OF


    INFLUENCE


    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not sim-


    pler.


    —ALBERT EINSTEIN


    I


    GOT A PHONE CALL ONE DAY FROM A FRIEND WHO HAD RECENTLY


    opened an Indian jewelry store in Arizona. She was giddy with a


    curious piece of news. Something fascinating had just happened, and


    she thought that, as a psychologist, I might be able to explain it to her.


    The story involved a certain allotment of turquoise jewelry she had


    been having trouble selling. It was the peak of the tourist season, the


    store was unusually full of customers, the turquoise pieces were of good


    quality for the prices she was asking; yet they had not sold. My friend


    had attempted a couple of standard sales tricks to get them moving.


    She tried calling attention to them by shifting their location to a more


    central display area; no luck. She even told her sales staff to “push” the


    items hard, again without success.


    Finally, the night before leaving on an out-of-town buying trip, she


    scribbled an exasperated note to her head saleswoman, “Everything in


    this display case, price × ½,” hoping just to be rid of the offending pieces,


    even if at a loss. When she returned a few days later, she was not sur-


    prised to find that every article had been sold. She was shocked, though,


    to discover that, because the employee had read the “½” in her scrawled


    message as a “2,” the entire allotment had sold out at twice the original


    price!


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