Influence: Science and Practice

by Robert B Cialdini, 1999

"This marvelous book explains in clear, practical language the ways in which we become persuaded. It offers excellent insights for those who sell, but even more importantly for all of us who negotiate and buy." -- Roger Fisher, Co-author of Getting to Yes

Recommended by Michael Rowe, used in an executive MBA class at Duke University


Six basic principles governed by a fundamental psychological principle that directs human behavior:
  • Reciprocation
  • Consistency
  • Social Proof
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity


    "The rule for reciprocity applies to most relationships; however, in its purest form reciprocity is unnecessary and undesirable in certain long-term relationships such as families or established friendships." "Still, it appears that persistent inequities can lead to dissatisfactions, even in friendships."

    Rejection-Then-Retreat (aka Door-in-the-Face) Technique incorporates reciprocity AND perceptual contract rules: First make a larger request that will most likely be turned down, then, following rejection, make the smaller request that was originally intended as a concession. However, the intial request must not seem unreasonable.

    A door-to-door sales technique is to request names of friends, neighbors, etc. as a concession to rejection of the sale.

    Showing the high-end model first, then decreasing value models leads to increased sales and results in higher sales of higher value goods and services.

    Victim reactions to rejection-then-retreat (customer does not follow through on verbal agreement or deciding to never deal with the requester again) occur LESS frequently than when using the up-selling approach.

    Rejecting the Reciprocity Rule

    Recognize tricks as not true gifts to reject the true request - if not, be prepared to pay above retail costs for water purifiers, etc. Sales devices vs. gifts.

    Commitment and Consistency

    It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end. -- Leonardo da Vinci

    Once we make a choice or take a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressure to behave consistently with that commitment. We justify the earlier decision and convince ourselves we made the right choice.

    Foolish Fortress avoiding unpleasant choices by making an easy, early decision and being consistent with that decision.

    How advertisers lever:

  • Seek and Hide advertise toys, under stock, then resupply after the holidays
  • Will you buy today if the price is right?
  • Surveys to build commitment to concepts / products Foot in the door Hi, how are you doing today? Interrogation admit smaller statements, build / publicize to force commitment / consistency (e.g. Chinese to American POWs in Korea to support Communism)

    Conditions for commitment to be effective:

  • Active
  • Public
  • Effortful
  • Freely-chosen

    Unless there is strong evidence to the contrary, observers automatically assume that someone who makes such a statement means it.

    Give others a reputation to uphold (e.g. Anwar Sadat in negotiations with Israel)

    Techniques for building commitment:

  • Testimonials, essay contents and online surveys and discussions groups with slanted statements / premises / questions are a common tool for building commitment to ideas
  • Write down your goals (a la Amway)
  • Have customers write down high-pressure orders
  • Secret ballot decreases change of hung jury
  • Added: August 4th 2003
    Reviewer: Kevin Guske
    Score: 10  
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