Tuesday, August 16

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

There are six main aspects of persuasion that can cause individuals to reflexively answer “yes.” Understanding these ideas and accompanying strategies can help you increase your influence while protecting yourself against manipulation by others. This summary of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” will teach you the six principles of persuasion, how they operate, and how they may be used against us.

The 6 Principles of Persuasion

Cialdini discovered six “weapons of influence” based on years of research, each based on a psychological principle of persuasion. Depending on the user’s intention, each principle can be used to bring about positive change or to deceive others. Knowing about these weapons allows us to protect ourselves from “compliance professionals” (e.g., salespeople or marketers), who specialise in convincing people to comply with their requests.


We feel obligated to repay in kind when someone does something for us or gives us something. The Reciprocity Principle is an important part of human society because it encourages sharing and cooperation, which promotes humanity’s social advancement.

The Reciprocity Principle can be used to force us into uninvited debts or unfair exchanges, such as being “forced” to accept an uninvited gift (and later cornered for a sale/donation), or a small gift or favour can be used to trigger a much larger favour or purchase in return.

Learn to recognise the requester’s true intent. If the person begins to make demands/requests after giving you a gift or favour, recognise that it is not a genuine favour or concession (merely a persuasive manoeuvre), which relieves you of the sense of obligation and allows you to say “no.”


We feel compelled to behave consistently with our earlier commitment and to justify our own decisions once we take a stand or make a choice. For this principle to take effect, a genuine commitment must be made, accompanied by a fundamental shift in self-image—this is most likely to occur when (a) we are actively doing something in support of a position or decision, (b) we have put effort into our choice, and (c) our stand is public. Unfortunately, this principle can be used to persuade us to make unfavourable decisions or make larger-than-desired commitments. You can learn more about the factors influencing commitment Examples of how this principle is applied around us. And how to avoid being manipulated in the full Influence book summary.

Social Proof

When we’re unsure how to act or react, we look to others for guidance. We assume that if a large number of people do something, it must be correct. This principle can be found everywhere, from long lines to testimonials and phrases such as “best-selling products.” This principle is so potent that it can overcome phobias, cause people to do things they disagree with, and even mimic aggression and suicide; it is most potent when we mimic the behaviour of people who are similar to us. Get our full Influence summary to see more examples of social proof and how to avoid herd instinct and deceptive/erroneous social evidence.

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We are more likely to agree to someone’s request if we know and like them. Friendships and personal relationships can have a significant impact on our decisions. Even if you don’t have any established friendships, you can activate this principle by simply getting someone to like you. We prefer people who are physically attractive, similar or familiar to us, associated with success/good news, and who praise and collaborate with us. Learn why referrals and Tupperware parties are so effective, the factors that influence likability, and how to minimise unwanted influences in our full Influence summary.


We are all conditioned (to varying degrees) to obey authority figures. Others, on the other hand, find it relatively easy to compel our compliance through symbols of authority such as titles, clothing, and other status symbols. We Can examine how this principle is commonly applied and how we can protect ourselves from undue influence.


In general, we perceive something to be more valuable when it is scarce. We value something more when we see its quantity decrease in front of our eyes (as opposed to when it was scarce from the start). And we value it the most when it is scarce due to demand or competition.

You can learn more about how people react to scarcity (including banned/censored items) in our full Influence book summary, as well as common scarcity tactics used to rouse us into buying now, and how to protect yourself against them.

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