(by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.)
Ch 1: Weapons of Influence
- In many species, a trigger feature, or one tiny aspect of something, will cue a fixed-action pattern, or a regular and blindly mechanical response.
- As an example of a parallel form of human automatic action, when we ask someone to do us a favor, we will be more successful if we provide a reason. Regardless of the reason.
- We need automatic and stereotyped behavior. We don't have the time or energy or capacity to recognize and analyze all aspects in all people, events, or situations.
- British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead asserted that "civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them."
- We know very little about our automatic behavior patterns, but they make us terribly vulnerable to anyone who knows how they work.
- One can trigger the great stores of influence that already exist in a situation and direct them toward the target, and thereby manipulate without the appearance of manipulation.
- The contrast principle states that if a second item is fairly different from the first, then we will tend to see it as more differently than it actually is.
- Therefore it is more profitable for salespeople to present the expensive item first; not doing so will actually cause the principle to work against them.
Ch 2: Reciprocation
- By virtue of the rule of reciprocation, we are obligated to the future repayment of favors, gifts, invitations, and the like. We even use "much obliged" as a synonym for "thank you."
- We can give away resources without actually giving them away, thereby lowering the natural inhibitions against transactions that must be begun by one person's providing personal resources to another.
- Human societies derive a significant competitive advantage from the reciprocity rule, and consequently ensure their members are trained to comply and believe in it.
The Rule Is Overpowering
- The rule is so strong that it simply overwhelms the influence of other factors that normally affects the decision to comply, such as whether one actually likes the other person.
- A promoter who gives free samples can release the natural indebting force inherent in a gift while innocently appearing to have only the intention to inform.
The Rule Enforces Uninvited Debts
- Another person can trigger a feeling of indebtedness by doing us an unwanted favor. The obligation to receive makes this easy to exploit.
- Free gifts through the mail solicit money as a "return offering" and not as payment, because there is a strong cultural pressure to reciprocate a gift, even if unwanted.
The Rule Can Trigger Unfair Exchanges
- The rule allows one person to choose the nature of the indebting first favor and the nature of the debt-canceling return favor, and so it can encourage an unfair exchange.
- Small favors can stimulate larger return favors because being in a state of obligation feels highly disagreeable, and society dislikes those who don't conform to the reciprocity rule.
- People will avoid asking for a needed favor if they will not be in a position to repay it.
- Another consequence of the rule is an obligation to make a concession to someone who has made a concession to us.
- We reciprocate concessions because it is in the interests of any human group to have its members working toward the achievement of common goals, usually through compromise.
- If there were no social obligation to reciprocate a concession, no one would want to make the first sacrifice. But the rule allows us to make the first sacrifice safely.
- The rejection-then-retreat technique is to ask a larger request that the other party will turn down, and then make the smaller request that you were interested in all along.
- The second request does not actually have to be a small request. It can be objectively large, as long as it is smaller than the first request.
- If a party makes an extreme request, then they are not seen as bargaining in good faith. Any retreat from that position is not viewed as a concession, and is therefore not reciprocated.
- A gifted negotiator takes an initial position that is exaggerated but not viewed as illegitimate, and allows for multiple reciprocal concessions that yield a desirable final offer.
- The rejection-than-retreat also employs the contrast principle. The concession will also look like a smaller request than if one had just asked for it straight away.
- The tactic also spurs people not only to agree to a desired request but actually to carry out the request and, finally, to volunteer to perform further requests.
- A requester's concession causes the target to feel more responsible for having "dictated" the final agreement, and therefore responsible for living up to the terms of that agreement.
- Forging an arrangement through concessions is also satisfying. A party that is satisfied with an arrangement is more likely to be willing to agree to future such arrangements.
HOW TO SAY NO
- Declining the requester's first offer is not a good strategy, for you cannot assess whether it is honest or the initial step in an exploitation attempt.
- By default, accept the gift and engage in the "honored network of obligation" that has served humanity so well, until you realize that it is a tactic for compliance.
- Upon being confronted with a compliance tactic, mentally redefine the initial offering as a weapon of that tactic, and you will free yourself from the reciprocity rule.
Ch 3: Commitment and Consistency
- Once we have made a decision, we will encounter personal or interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with it, and consequently respond in ways that justify it.
- The drive to be and look consistent constitutes a highly potent weapon of social influence, often causing us to act in ways which are clearly contrary to our own best interests.
- Inconsistent people are seen as indecisive, confused, two-faced, or even mentally ill. Consistent people are seen as having personal and intellectual strength.
- Maintaining consistency means we don't have to think hard about an issue anymore, letting us cope with complex environments that make demands on our mental energies and capacities.
- Furthermore, automatic consistency can supply a safe hiding place from disturbing things that we would rather not realize.
- Exploiters can structure their interactions with us so that our own need to be consistent with lead directly to their benefit.
COMMITMENT IS THE KEY
- Once someone makes a commitment, or takes a stand or goes on record, then there is a natural tendency to behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with that commitment.
- Many salespeople use the "foot-int-the-door" technique, or obtain a large purchase by starting with a small one. The purpose of this small one is not profit, but commitment.
- Making a small agreement can also change our self-image, which in turn increases our willingness to comply with larger requests that are only remotely connected to the small one.
- Once you have a man's self image where you want it, he should comply naturally with a whole range of requests that are consistent with his view of himself.
The Magic Act
- Our behavior informs us about ourselves; it is a primary source of information about our beliefs and values and attitudes.
- A written statement is not just a lasting personal reminder of one's action, but is also likely to persuade those around him that his statement reflected his actual beliefs.
- What those around us think is true is enormously important for what we ourselves think is true.
The Public Eye
- Public commitments tend to be lasting commitments. And the more public the commitment, the more reluctant we will be to change it.
The Effort Extra
- Written commitments require more effort than verbal ones. And the more effort goes into a commitment, the greater its ability to influence the attitudes of the person who made it.
- Persons who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with a minimum of effort.
- This applies to any effortful and troublesome initiation rite, where the loyalty and dedication of those who emerge will increase the chances of group cohesion and survival.
The Inner Choice
- We accept inner responsibility for a behavior when we think we have chosen to perform it in the absence of strong outside pressures, such as a large reward or strong threat.
- Consequently, we must arrange for our children to accept inner responsibility for the actions that we want them to take, and not heavily bribe or threaten them for compliance.
- Once we have made a commitment, we find new reasons that support or justify our commitment.
- The "lowball technique" is to induce a commitment, wait for the commitment to stand on its own with the help of these new reasons, and then remove the inducement.
- If the lowball technique is used for good, then removing the inducement may even heighten the commitment by a person, as he or she can now fully own the commitment.
HOW TO SAY NO
- When your stomach tells you that you would be a sucker to make a commitment simply because it would be consistent with a prior commitment, relay that message to the requester.
- We may experience true feelings about something a split second before we can intellectualize, or even rationalize, about it. This is the signal from our heart of hearts.
Ch 4: Social Proof
- The principle of social proof states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct.
- This applies especially to what constitutes correct behavior. We view behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.
- Sales and motivation consultant Cavett Robert said: "Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others..."
CAUSE OF DEATH: UNCERTAIN(TY)
- When we are unsure of ourselves, when the situation is unclear or ambiguous, when uncertainty reigns, we are most likely to look to and accept the actions of others as correct.
- But others are probably examining the social evidence, too, leading to the phenomenon of "pluralistic ignorance." which is the underlying cause of the bystander effect.
- The bystander effect happens because the personal responsibility of each individual is reduced, and pluralistic ignorance, where everyone else is looking around instead of taking action.
- Pluralistic ignorance is strongest when among strangers, because we like to look poised in public, and because we are unfamiliar with the reactions of those we don't know.
- The confusion, populousness, and low level of acquaintanceship in urban environments fit very well with the factors shown by research to decrease bystander aid.
- If you need aid, be precise as possible about your need for it. And request assistance from a single individual instead of making a general request for help.
MONKEY ME, MONKEY DO
- We will use the actions of others to decide on proper behavior for ourselves, especially when we view those others as similar to ourselves.
- The Werther Effect is where, in a morbid illustration of the principle of social proof, people who read of another's self-inflicted death kill themselves in imitation.
- Widely publicized aggression has the tendency to spread to spread to similar victims, no matter whether the aggression is inflicted on the self or on the other.
- No leader can persuade all the members of a group. But one can persuade a sizeable portion of the group members, which in turn can convince the rest.
- Thus the most influential leaders, then, are those who know how to arrange group conditions to allow the principle of social proof to work maximally in their favor.
HOW TO SAY NO
- Social proof can give us poor counsel when the social evidence has been purposefully falsified. Fortunately, much of this fakery is strikingly obvious.
- The transparency of rigged social proof provides us with exactly the cue we need for knowing when to disengage our "automatic pilot" and correct our course.
- When an innocent, natural error produces snowballing social proof that pushes us to an incorrect decision, it is also a liability.
- In this situation, we assume that a large group of people doing the same thing are somehow better informed, but they are also simply reacting to the principle of social proof.
- We should periodically check that the social proof aligns with sources of evidence in a situation, such as the objective facts, prior experiences, and our own judgments.
Ch 5: Liking
- As a rule, we prefer to say yes to the requests of someone whom we know and we like.
- Compliance professionals know and exploit this; they arrange for customers to buy from and for a friend, or arm themselves with the name of a friend who recommends their services.
- A halo effect is when one positive characteristic of a person dominates their perception by others. Physical attractiveness is often such a characteristic.
- We assign to good-looking individuals traits such as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence, all while unaware that physical attractiveness plays a role in this process.
- Adults view aggressive acts as less naughty when performed by an attractive child, and teachers presume attractive children to be more intelligent.
- We like people who are similar to us in the area of opinions, personality traits, background, or lifestyle.
- We are suckers for flattery. Although there are limits to our gullibility, we tend to believe praise and to like those who provide it, oftentimes when it is clearly fake.
Contact and Cooperation
- Our attitude toward something is influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past.
- Repeated contact with something doesn't necessarily cause greater liking. Exposure under conditions such as frustration, conflict, or competition leads to less liking.
- Cooperation begets liking, and so compliance professionals insist that they are working for the same goals as us, and that we must "pull together" for mutual benefit.
Conditioning and Association
- We dislike a person who brings us unpleasant information, even if that person did not cause the bad news. The principle of association also holds for positive connections.
- Our mothers taught us "guilt by association" when they warned us about being known by the company that we kept. People assume that we have the same personality traits as our friends.
- Under the "luncheon technique," we become fonder of the people and things that we experience while eating, as we attach to them the positive feeling that arises from eating good food.
- We understand the association principle well enough to strive to link ourselves to positive events, and to separate ourselves from negative events.
- Issac Asimov said that you root for your own sex, your own culture, your own locality. Whoever you root for represents you, and when he wins, you win.
- If we can surround ourselves with success that we are connected to in even a superficial way, then our public prestige will rise.
- When our public image is damaged, we will try to restore that image by trumpeting our ties to successful others, and avoid publicizing our ties to failing others.
- While some try to inflate their visible connections to others of success, others may strive to inflate the success of others they are visibly connected to.
HOW TO SAY NO
- We cannot guard against the wide range of liking-related factors. Instead we can only monitor for liking the practitioner more than we should under the circumstances.
- Upon such recognition, actively disliking the practitioner may not serve our own interests. Instead, we must mentally separate the practitioner from the item of sale.
Ch 6: Authority
- The Milgram experiments show that "it is the extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority."
- A layered and widely accepted system of authority allows the development of sophisticated structures for resource production, trade, defense, expansion, and social control.
- Information from a recognized authority can provide us with a valuable shortcut for deciding how to act in a situation.
- Authority figures can bestow wisdom, and taking their advice can prove beneficial -- partly because of that wisdom, and partly because they controlled our rewards and punishments.
- In many situations where a legitimate authority has spoken, what would otherwise make sense is irrelevant. We don't consider the situation as a whole, but respond only to one aspect of it.
CONNOTATION, NOT CONTENT
- Responding to authority is a reflex, and we are often as vulnerable to the symbols of authority as we are to the substance.
- Titles take years of work and achievement to earn, but one who puts in no effort can adopt the mere label and receive a kind of automatic deference.
- We see size and status as related. People with more prestigious titles are judged taller than those without, and taller people are seen as more authoritative.
- We respond with mechanical compliance to those who are in uniform, and to those who are well dressed. Both of which are also easily fakable.
- Trappings such as jewelry and cars also symbolize authority. We are more patient and more forgiving of drivers in new, luxury cars than in older, economy ones.
HOW TO SAY NO
- A heightened awareness of authority power, coupled with a recognition for how easily authority symbols can be faked, can help guard against manipulation involving authority.
- When confronted by an authority figure, ask if he or she is truly an expert. Focus on the authority's credentials and the relevance of those credentials to the topic at hand.
- Before submitting to authority influence, we should ask how truthful we can expect the expert to be. Even the best informed authorities may not present their information honestly.
- Compliance practitioners will seem to argue to a degree against their own interests, which can be a subtly effective device for proving their honesty.
- By establishing truthfulness on minor issues, a compliance professional can then be more believable when stressing the important aspects of their argument.
Ch 7: Scarcity
- Potential loss plays a huge part in decision making. We seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.
- Opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited. Compliance professionals employ this with "limited number" and "deadline" tactics.
- The scarcity principle trades on our weakness for shortcuts, namely that things which are difficult to possess are typically better than things which are easy to possess.
- Additionally, we hate to lose freedoms that we already have. Scarcity interferes with our prior access to some item, so we want and try to possess the item more than before.
- This psychological reactance can be traced back to the "terrible twos," when children finally identify themselves as autonomous, which brings about the concept of freedom.
- We rarely recognize the psychological reactance that makes us want an item more, and so we begin to assign it positive qualities to justify the desire.
- When information is censored, we not only want to have it more, but we tend to believe in the information more, even though we haven't received it.
- To create agreement on an unpopular opinion, it may be less effective to publicize the opinion, and more effective to have the opinion censored and then to publicize the censorship.
- Applying the scarcity principle beyond material commodities, information may not have to be censored for us to value it more; it need only be scarce.
- We see a thing as more desirable when it has recently become less available than when it has been scarce all along.
- Not only do we want the same item more when it is scarce, we want it most when we are in competition for it. Such conditions have powerfully motivating properties.
HOW TO SAY NO
- Knowing the causes and workings of scarcity pressures is a cognitive thing, but this is insufficient for defense, as cognitive process is suppressed by our emotional reaction to scarcity.
- By learning to flag the experience of heightening arousal in a compliance situation, we can alert ourselves to the possibility of scarcity tactics and proceed with caution.
- Scarcity is only a good measure for value if we want something for the social, economic, or psychological benefits of possessing something rare.
- Often we don't want a thing for the sake of owning it, but for its actual utility. In such cases, it is vital to remember that scarcity does not bestow increased utility.
- With the sophisticated mental apparatus that grants us eminence as a species, we have created an environment so overwhelming that we must cope in the fashion of animals that we transcended.
- We will less frequently enjoy the luxury of a fully considered analysis of the total situation, and will revert increasingly to focus on a single, usually unreliable feature of it.
- The real treachery, and the thing that we cannot tolerate, is any attempt to make a profit in a way that threatens the reliability of our shortcuts. Because we require them.
Last modified 19 September 2022