This article holds my book notes from the most important, useful points of famed psychologist Robert Cialdini’s new book, Presuasion. Adding onto his first book Influence, Robert reveals a seventh law of influence and breaks down the techniques of priming, subconscious cues that influence someone’s decision before the selling or decision is made.
Like Cialdini emphasizes in the intro and last chapter, I’d like to underscore the importance of using these techniques for good rather than short-term results or manipulation. Otherwise, in the long run, you’ll lose more than you gain; he explains how and why in the chapter.
Presuasion is the short time moment of privileged opportunity where someone is more susceptible to influence based on preparing certain circumstances. What’s most important is that you focus the persons attention on a specific thing at a specific moment in time.
Studies have shown that asking someone if he or she is a helpful person or if he or she is adventurous, getting a response, and then asking for something, increases the chances they will say yes to your ask. Most people will consider themselves helpful and adventurous people, So when they are reminded of that and focused on that, they are more likely to help.
- Astrology and palm readers get away with everything because their predictions are so broad that they’re always seen as right. The personality traits they mention are something that almost everyone has at some point in their life. Thanks to confirmation bias, people search out memories that confirm that trait rather than the memories that disprove that trait. Therefore, while someone may be stubborn at times and flexible at times, they will only search their memories for times they were stubborn.
What’s Salient Is Important, What’s Focal is the the Cause
What’s most salient in a presentation is seen as most important even when it isn’t, and what’s focused on in a presentation is seen as the cause even when it isn’t. Maybe that’s why CEO’s are paid ten or a hundred times more than everyone else in the company. Everyone sees the CEO’s image, so they assume he is the cause of success when he was really just part of a team that contributed equally.
So many people bet on certain numbers associated with the Tylenol poisoning scandal that the lottery company had to put a limit on them because those numbers were no longer statistically viable to bed on since so many people bet on them. Why did so many people use these numbers if they were associated with death? It seems absurd on the surface, but keep in mind that what is focal becomes causal. There was a lot of news about the Tylenol scandal, and these numbers kept being mentioned, so people assumed that these numbers were impactful or special.
Advertisements make the mistake of flitting between two many different cuts in their commercials rather than focusing on one thing they want to make clear.
Someone can influence you to think more favorably about something by how they phrase the question. They can ask are you happy? Instead of are you happy or sad? Or did you ask you what is your opinion on Canon cameras? Instead of what is your opinion on Canon cameras versus Nikon cameras? The omission of What you’re comparing it to causes cancer or to focus on what you mentioned and think more favorably of it then they otherwise would.
What You Focus On Matters
Experiments show that what female test-takers focus on affects their test taking results. If they focus on the fact that they are female, their insecurity leads to worst test results. If they shift your focus from being female to a trait that makes them feel better about their skill, like being Asian for a math test, they do better. Show that what female test takers focus on affects their test taking results. If they focus on the fact that they are female, their insecurity leads to worst test results. If they shift their focus from being female to a trait that makes them feel better about their skill, like being Asian for a math test, they do better. If they are shown examples of females who have achieved success in science and math before the test, they do better.
Similarly, medical students often believe that they have the illnesses that they research even when worn before hand that this is a common issue. That’s because they hyper-focus on their body once they are aware of the symptoms so much so that even the slightest influence on that body part causes them to believe that there is an issue.
When the landing page of a website had clouds on it, the users were more likely to purchase higher quality, costly your pillows and focus more on the comfort of the pillows. When the background landing page had pennies on it, users were more focused on saving money and purchase the cheaper options.
A top sales person used a tactic to get prospects to trust him more. During the sales pitch, he asked if he could get something in the car and just walk out the front door and back himself. It programmed in peoples minds that he was someone who they would be willing to trust walk in and out of the front door.
The Magic of the Zardonic Effect on Memory & Procrastination
The Zardonic effect is when you are much better at remembering something that is still an incomplete task. Advertisers and those seeking to keep attention can use this to prevent closure, creating curiosity with cliffhangers to keep prospects wanting to find out what happened or remembering what was shown them. Procrastinators can use this to
What we think about most often gets seen as most important. A study on college women found that the people they found most attractive were not the ones who rated them the highest but those who had yet to disclose their reading because it made girls wonder.
People are more likely to add you on Facebook, sign up for your gym class, and like someone if they have the same birthday as you.
How you word things changes perception. The best life insurance salesman in the country never pressured prospects. He intelligently guided people, calling death “walking out”instead and masterfully using metaphors like your insurance “walking in.” Similarly, car salesmen are instructed to describe a used car as pre-owned instead. That way, people perceive it as less tainted.
Cues linked to a style of approach or individuals can spur you to match the audience you want to write for, which is why Cialdini could write better at home than at the university because more props at home had more cues.
Names that are easier to pronounce stayed in a law firms hierarchy longer and higher, regardless of whether they were foreign or not.
Advertisers successfully get people to associate positive feelings to their products by associating the Products with celebrities and other credible and positive things, even if they have no relation to the product.
Certain banner ads never got people who viewed them to get tired of them even after they saw them 20 times, which doesn’t happen in advertising, and this occurred because the ads were ones that only registered unconsciously and the usual didn’t consciously recognize them.
You can someone to be more warm by giving them a warm drink, get them to buy more french food by playing french music, get them to try something new by asking them if they are adventurous.
Subliminally exposing people to happy people many times versus sad people caused people to drink more of the soft drink and spend three times more than they would on it without them being aware of the influence.
You can receive higher benefits from others when you request by giving unexpected benefits to others. Surprise chocolate gifts to diners from waiters cause a 27% increase in tips.
Giving free food samples at grocery stores and restaurants causes customers to buy more and each more since it activates the law of reciprocity even though their stomachs got full quicker. it doesn’t make much logical sense, but it makes perfect psychological sense. They were emotionally influenced to reciprocate.
The law of reciprocity is present in every culture. Even terrorists spring from cultures where the law of reciprocity is taught. In the book, and two examples are given of how to terrorists gave out vital information during the interrogation only after a pivotal point where the law of reciprocity was employed. The first example was with a bodyguard of bin Laden. He refused to talking only lectured about his philosophy until one day when they gave him sugar-free cookies when they realized he was diabetic and when it the cookies in his meals. Then, he gave vital information about his organization, including seven names of the plane hijackers of 911. In the second example, for Viagra tablets were given to the terrorist for each of his wives. The next day, he gave a lack of vital information about his organization with a beaming smile.
Waitresses mimicking the talking style of their guests doubled their tips. Sales people who mimicked the talking style of their prospects sold more. People who use computers pre-programmed to give them complements had more favorable feelings towards the computer even when they were told before hand that the compliments were pre-programmed and not based on their behavior. Barbers got 17% more tips when complimenting A customer by saying that any hairstyle works well on them. Even compliments with known ulterior motives work.
Compliments and getting people to like you in sales works since people believe you will help someone you genuinely like. Your first goal is to show that you genuinely like someone. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
If one romantic partner prays every day for the well being of another for a long time, he or she will be less likely to cheat because it would be inconsistent with her prayers for well being.
You are seen as more trustworthy when giving a presentation If you address some of the downsides and weaknesses early on rather than at the end of a presentation.
Scarcity: if a salesman says you will lose twenty thousand if you dont act, he will get thanked, but if he says you will earn twenty thousand if you act, the phone will get slammed down on him.
The New 7th Principle of Persuasion
Cialdini discovered a seventh universal influence, unity. Being part of the same identity, “we,” is more than just similar interests but similar ethnicities and beliefs. Humans are wired not just to make sure they themselves survive and reproduce, but to make sure copies of their DNA survive and reproduce. That’s why they’ll go well out of their way to help close relatives.
This influence principle allowed Cialdini to get almost 100% of his students to get their parents to fill out a questionnaire, which usually gets a dismal response rate of 20%. He offered just one point for a future exam if they did it, but I think it employed the sense of family identity. He argues that if he had asked for grandparents, it would have had an even greater result.
Being a part of the same tribe is important. Cialdini recounts a story of how a nazi failed to shoot a Jew because that Jew was part of the same town as him. Being part of the same geographic area can create kinship too if you look at international sports championships. Cialdini also tells the story of how a jew Rabbi khalish invoked kinship when seeking safety from Japanese soldiers during the Holocaust by appealing to the fact that they were both Asian. Despite the German and Japanese alliance during war, the genetic kinship that was mentioned made the Japanese protect him.
People in a study instructed to brush their hair in the same way as someone on TV rated the person on TV as having more similar a personality as them and more likeable than those instructed to brush their hair differently.
Warren Buffett employs some of these concepts in his annual shareholder letter. He mentions that he wants to explains things like to his own family member, which builds trust with the keyword “family member.” He also addresses problems and issues at the start of his letter rather than hide them at the end, making the presentation more convincing. He’s not using trickery; his arguments have merits and he’s using influence to get his point across better.
Match your rational and emotional persuasion system with the person’s rational (fast, system one) or emotional (slow, system two) thinking. Music is irrational and emotional and synchronic, great for system two and no rational argument. Formed relationships create unity, which caused one family that accidentally sent christmas cards to another for ten years to take in the familys son and offer a place to live for a few days before he went to college. Those who perform similar behavior in harmony with another are 50% more likely to be influenced by them. This synchronous behavior can be marching or tapping. Another study found that people who mimicked the actions of a black actor on a video were more likely to decrease their discrimination of blacks as being less favorable than whites.
Cialdini asserts that harmony and unity is why musicians do well with women even though rationally, the chances of a successful musical career or relationship with a musician are very low. He points to a study where a man asking women for their numbers in public got twice the numbers with a guitar case versus a sports bag or nothing.
Research shows that asking women for their number on a sunny day versus a rainy day makes a difference. On this sunny day, the acceptance rate was 22% versus 13% on a cloudy day. The weather may subliminally influence receptivity or mood.
Employees at unethical companies perform worse and have more stress than employees at ethical companies. Cialdini asserts that using these influence principles negatively to manipulate in business will lose money in the long term as your reputation will be destroyed when exposed. He wrote these principles to protect consumers. He also gives an example of a successful company that went down the drain as they used these principles to hide and lie. Research shows that the long term reputation loss in revenue of unethical companies isn’t worth the practice of being unethical. And unethical employees are as likely to lie to you as they are to lie for you.
When you are in a disoriented environment with a lot of distraction or stuff going on, we cannot do hard thinking and we are more susceptible to just saying yes.
You can presuade yourself with images in your screensaver. Successful runners who win for achievement, a thinking picture for more focus and thinking, and so on.
One sign to remind doctors that washing hands will prevent patients from getting diseases increased hand washing by 45% compared to a sign that reminded them that washing hands will prevent themselves from getting diseases which had no effect. The reminder is important because it keeps it top of mind. Who we are is where we are.
People like people who are more similar to them, give them unexpected, personalized gifts, and/or give them genuine compliments.
Social proof: An energy company tried many different messages to get people to switch to them, including a self interest message about how much money they can save with a switch versus a social proof message that told the person that most other people in their community saved energy. The social proof message one out, beating the other messages by 3.5 times.
Similarly, and experiment was conducted on Dutch high school students. The experimenter’s put a message in front of them telling them that most of the students eat more fruit to be healthier. Even though the students in the study said that they didn’t care about eating more fruit to be healthier and didn’t want to change, there was a 35% increase in food consumption by the students.
Robert Cialdini’s Exclusive Bonus Advice to My Readers
I reached out Dr. Robert Cialdini to have him offer his #1 most impactful tip from the book for this article. Here’s what he said.
I would say my #1 tip would be: ‘By first focusing an audience on an idea or concept that is aligned with a communicator’s message, the communicator can move audience members into agreement with the message before they experience it.’