Influence, Influence-the psychology of persuasion, principle of persuasion

Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion: A Simple Review

Curious to know about the psychology of human behavior!

There are two ways to do so!

One, you can observe yourself very minutely. As you are a human, by scanning every behavior of your own, you can understand the psychology behind human behavior, right?


That needs a lot of patience as well as time.

Who has that?

A survey proved that a human being has an attention span of eight seconds on average in today’s scenario.

Two, you can read books on psychology.

So, you are in the right spot because here, in this article, I will give you a summary or review ( my opinion) on a very highly demanded and recommended book- INFLUENCE-The Psychology of Persuasion!

Many great marketers, influencers, and business owners have recommended this book.

As a marketer, I didn’t have any other option but to read it. I was eager to know the reason behind its popularity.

I am sharing this book’s review with you so that you can have a brief idea about the context of the book, and also, it will make your decision easy whether to buy and read it or not.

Don’t worry!

I will not bore you by writing lengthy descriptions of every chapter.

So, let’s start the review of Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion!

I will keep it short & simple and to the point.

And if at any point you feel that I am unnecessarily exaggerating the context or making it lengthy, please bear with me as this is my first review article.

I may make mistakes as a human, but I will try my best not to disappoint you.

Before going straight to the book, let me give you an abstract about the author, the man behind this book.

Who Is Robert B. Cialdini?

Dr. Robert Cialdini is a Regent’s Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University.

Dr. Cialdini is the author of three New York Times bestsellers.

  • Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion
  • Yes!
  • Pre-Suasion

He is the CEO of INFLUENCE AT WORK, which provides programs on the ethical use of influence science. He is a thought leader and pioneer for his rigorous scientific studies, publishing, and popular speaking programs exploring the psychological factors that lead us to agree to requests.

He is also known for his keynote presentations throughout the world.

Dr. Cialdini attributes his long-standing interests in the intricacies of social influence to begin raised in an entirely Italian family, in a predominantly Polish neighborhood, in a historically German city(Milwaukee), in an otherwise rural state.

His book, Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion has sold more than five million copies and translated into forty-four languages.

So, let’s go deep into the book without any more delay.

Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion (New and Expanded)

In this book, the author, Mr. Cialdini, explains seven principles or levers of influence. He talks about why people say “YES” to any requests or favors demanded from them. So, as an experimental social psychologist, he began to research the psychology of compliance.

Mr. Cialdini, for all his life, has been a patsy (a person who is quickly taken advantage of). He has been an easy mark for the pitches of peddlers, fundraisers, and operators for one sort or another. He talks about the compliance professionals- the people who had been using the principles on him all his life.

Of course, these professionals know what works and what doesn’t; the law of survival of the fittest assures it. Those who don’t know how to convince people to say YES soon fall away; those who do succeed. These professionals are not the only ones who know these principles of influence. We all implement them and fall victim to them in some way or the other in our daily interactions with friends and family.

The author has combined his experimental studies with a decidedly more entertaining program for nearly three years. He systematically immersed himself in the world of compliance professionals- salespeople, fundraisers, marketers, recruiters, etc. Although there are thousands of different tactics that compliance practitioners employ to produce YES, the majority fall within seven basic categories: –

  • Reciprocation
  • Liking
  • Social Proof
  • Authority
  • Scarcity
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Unity

A psychological principle that directs human behavior governs each of the above categories.

The principles of reciprocation, unity, and liking come into play when relationship cultivation is primary. Then it is followed by Social Proof and Authority, when reducing uncertainty is foremost, followed by consistency and scarcity for when motivating action is the main objective.

Reciprocation – The Old Give and Take

“Let not thine hand be stretched out to receive and drawn back when thou shouldest repay.”

– Ecclesiasticus 4:30-31.

The first principle of influence described in this book is the Rule of Reciprocation.

The rule is to try to repay what another person has provided us. According to the author, this rule is deeply implanted in human beings by the process of socialization they all undergo. In this chapter, the author has proved this rule of reciprocation by giving examples of various politicians, leaders, army generals, etc., in the past.

The decision to agree with another’s request is one of the traits of the rule of reciprocation. Certain compliance professionals’ favorite and profitable tactic is to give something before asking a specific favor. The exploitability of the tactic is due to three characteristics of the rule of reciprocation: –

First, the rule is compelling, often overwhelming the influence of other factors that generally determine compliance with a request.

The rule becomes particularly potent when a favor or service is somewhat personal to the recipient’s current needs.

Second, the rule also applies to first favors, thereby creating a dilemma in deciding whom to owe, putting the choice in the hands of others. Instead of providing first favor, an individual can make an initial concession that stimulates a return concession.

Finally, the rule can encourage unequal exchanges; to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of gratitude, people often agree to a request for an immense favor than the one they received.

According to the author, one of the best defense systems against the use of reciprocity pressures to gain our compliance is not the systematic rejection of the initial offers of others. Instead, we can accept initial requests in good faith and be ready to redefine them as tricks. Once we redefine them in this way, we should no longer need to respond with a favor or concession of our own.

Liking – The Friendly Thief

There is nothing more effective in selling anything than getting customers to believe, really believe , you like them.

–Joe Girard.
Liking - The Friendly Thief, Influence, Influence-the psychology of persuasion, principle of persuasion

This principle is the second principle of influence as described in the book.

People often prefer to say YES to individuals they like or know.

One such factor is physical attractiveness. Researches show that physical beauty (note-personality) has an advantage in social attraction. Physical attractiveness causes a halo effect that assigns other traits such as talent, kindness, and intelligence. As a result, attractive people (people with pleasing personalities) are more persuasive in getting what they request and changing other people’s attitudes.

A second factor is Similarity. We like people like us, and we are more willing to say YES to their requests, often in an unthinking manner.

A third factor that influences liking is praise. Compliments generally enhance affection and, hence, compliance.

A fourth factor is increased familiarity through repeated contact with a person or thing, facilitating liking. This principle holds when communication occurs under favorable circumstances rather than unfavorable ones.

A fifth factor that influences liking is association. Advertisers and politicians frequently seek to share in positivity through the process of association by connecting themselves or their products with positive things.

An effective strategy for reducing the unwanted influence of liking on compliance decisions requires sensitivity to the experience of extreme liking for a requester. Upon recognizing that we want a requester excessively well under the circumstances, mentally separate the requester from their offer, and make compliance decisions based solely on the proposal’s merits.

Social Proof – Truths are us

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate one another.

–Eric Hofer.
Social Proof, Influence, Influence-the psychology of persuasion, principle of persuasion

It is the third principle of influence mentioned in the book.

This principle states that one necessary means people use to decide what to believe or act in a situation is to examine what others think or do there. Compliance professionals use the principle of social proof is to stimulate a person’s compliance with a request by communicating that many other individuals are or have been complying with it. Social proof is most influential under three conditions: –

The first condition is uncertainty. When people are not sure, when the situation is not clear, they are more likely to attend to the action of others and to accept those actions as correct.

A second condition under which social proof is most influential involves “the many.” When we see multiple people performing a particular action, we become willing to follow because the move appears to be more valid, feasible, and socially acceptable.

The third condition under which social proof is most influential is similarity. According to the author, there is a phenomenon called peer suasion. Here people comply with the beliefs and actions of their peers.

To reduce our vulnerability to faulty social proof, we can cultivate a sensitivity to fake evidence of what similar others are doing and recognize that the actions of similar others should not form the sole basis for our decisions.

Authority – Directed Deference

Follow an Expert.

Authority, Influence, Influence-the psychology of persuasion, principle of persuasion

This principle is the fourth principle of influence mentioned by the author.

We can view authority influence as either in-authority or an-authority.

In-authority – ordering people to do things causes resistance as well as resentment.

As it is highly informed, the second type of authority avoids this problem, as people tend to follow the recommendations of someone who knows more than they do.

The persuasive effect of authority is maximized by also being seen as one perceived as both expert and trustworthy. To establish their trustworthiness, communicators may admit to a shortcoming of their case, which can be swept aside later by presenting outweighing strengths.

We can defend ourselves against the effects of authority influence by asking two questions:

  • Is this authority truly an expert?
  • How truthful can this expert be?

Scarcity – The rule of the Few

The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.

Scarcity - The rule of the Few, Influence, Influence-the psychology of persuasion, principle of persuasion

According to this principle, we assign more value to less available opportunities. We can see this principle in tactics such as limited number, deadline, etc., where practitioners try to convince us that we will lose something of value if we don’t act now.

The scarcity principle holds for two reasons: –

First, because things difficult to attain are more valuable, the availability of an item can serve as a signal to its quality. Because of loss aversion, we will be motivated to avoid something of high quality.

Second, as things become scarce, we lose freedom. As per the psychological reactance theory, we respond to the loss of privileges by wanting to have them more than before.

We can hold the scarcity principle under two conditions: –

First, practitioners knowingly heighten the value of scarce items when they are newly short.

Second, we are most attracted to scarce items when we compete with others for them.

It is tough to tackle the scarcity principle as they have an emotion-arousing quality that makes thinking difficult. We might try to be alert to such kinds of emotions and try to calm those arousals and assess the merits of the opportunity in terms of why we want it.

Commitment and Consistency – Hobgoblins of the Mind

I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.

–James Joyce.
Commitment and Consistency, Influence, Influence-the psychology of persuasion, principle of persuasion

Psychologists have long recognized a desire in most people to be and look consistent within their words, beliefs, attitudes, and deeds.

According to the author, three sources feed this tendency for consistency.

First, Our society highly values good personal consistency.

Second, consistent conduct provides a beneficial approach to daily life.

Third, being consistent with earlier decisions reduces the need to process all the relevant information in similar situations.

Commitment decisions tend to be self-perpetuating because they can “grow their legs.”(People often add justifications to support the wisdom of commitment they have already made.
Securing an initial commitment is the key. Thus these compliance professionals try to induce people to take an initial responsibility consistent with their behavior to later request from them.

To recognize and resist this influence of consistency pressures on our compliance decisions, we should listen to our signals coming from two places- our stomachs and our heart of hearts.
Stomach signs appear when we realize practitioners use the influence of consistency and commitment to make us comply with the requests we do not want to perform.
Heart-of-hearts signs appear when we are not sure that the commitment we made was right or wrong. Here we need to question ourselves: Knowing what I now know, would I make the same commitment if I could go back in time?

Unity – The “WE” is the shared ME

If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to one another.

–Mother Teresa.
UNITY, Influence, Influence-the psychology of persuasion, principle of persuasion

Whom do you think people say yes?

To someone, they consider one of them.

The experience of “we”- ness with others is about shared identities- such as race, ethnicity, nationality, and family.

Research into “we”- groups has produced three general conclusions. Members of these groups favor the outcomes and welfare of fellow members over those of non-members. “We”-group members also use the preferences and actions of fellow members to guide their own, which enhances group solidarity.

The perception of belonging with others is one fundamental factor leading to the feeling of “we”-ness. Commonalities of kinship commonalities of place (including one’s home, locality, and region) generate this perception. The experience of acting together in unison or coordination is a second fundamental factor leading to a sense of unity with others.

Other connections involving national identity, mutual enemies, collective emotional experience, and shared perspective can also lead to feelings of unity; unfortunately, they are often short-lived. However, focusing concentrated, repeated attention on such connections may make them more enduring by increasing their perceived importance.

Who Should Read “Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion”?

This book is thick, around 450 pages.

You should read this if: –

  • You are a marketer/aspiring marketer.
  • You are a business owner/ aspiring business owner.
  • You have a keen interest in the variations of human behavior.
  • You are a victim of saying “YES” every time to all kinds of people.
  • You have a deep interest in psychology.
  • You want to convince someone to complete any action.

Again, these are my opinions on this book.

But obviously, the author has given many real-life examples to prove these seven principles of influence. And these examples are LENGTHY. It might take some time for a new textbook reader to understand the vocabulary.

If you are an audio-type person (who prefers listening to audio rather than reading a physical book), the audio version is also available on various online platforms such as amazon audible, etc.,

And for the physical copy, you can collect it from the website of amazon.

Why Should You Read this Book?

Look, I came across this book after looking at the suggestions of great internet marketers and business owners.

I was eager to know about these tactics of persuasion as a marketer. After going through this book, I realized that every online marketer uses the above seven principles of influence to market their products and services.

For example: –

Reciprocation: Marketers give something like a free e-book or a free brochure so that you can do some meaningful transaction with them.

Authority: In the present age of sales and marketing, no one will buy your products or services if you don’t build your authority or brand in the market.

Scarcity: Online marketers often use this tactic to increase sales by setting up the TIMER to convey that the offer will end soon or that products are scarce. They use the trigger of FOMO on their target audience.

Social Proof: When people are confused about whether to buy a product, they often look for social proof or evidence to have a sense of safety.

So you need to know these principles to market your business in the online and offline world.

These principles apply to the marketing domain and all aspects of human life, like relationships.


Modern life is different from that of early life. Today information and knowledge are exploding. In this era of overloaded information, making decisions has drastically decreased.

Although we all wish to make the most thoughtful, fully considered decision possible in any situation, the changing form and accelerating pace of modern life frequently deprive us of the proper conditions for a careful analysis of all the relevant pros and cons.

We take a shortcut approach to make a reliable decision on a single piece of information or a single trigger.

Compliance professionals who pervade their requests with one or other levers of influence are more likely to succeed.

These professionals are not necessarily exploitative every time. But sometimes, it becomes so when practitioners fabricate any of these levers for their selfish motives. You have to be alert to these types of compliance professionals.

If you wish to apply these principles in your day-to-day life, use them moderately.

What do you think of this article?

I would love to see your views in the comments below.

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