It feels to me that I have been empowered with my own personal ministry of defense to the way of world. The tools, or weapons, of influence that have been formally introduced to me with clear descriptions of those weapons with down-to-earth stories to illustrate the way those weapons are used in the world at large. With Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, American social psychologist Robert B. Cialdini introduced me and anyone that reads this book on the psychology of persuasion a keen sense for common sense ways to interpret and function in the western world.
Over the course of seven chapters and an epilogue, Cialdini reviews the six categories that he has learned about and researched during his academic career and while teaching in the marketing department at Arizona State University. Each chapter feels readily accessible to me, and tends to draw you in with some kind of analogy that demonstrates the concepts intended for your understanding.
(Robert B. Cialdini)
In the book’s opening chapter, the concept of using the presented categories of influence gets into the concept of substituting some single piece of representative information into a consistent shortcut for fully analyzing every situation that you are presented. An illustrating point that stood out for me what the concept of selling consumer goods in a store.
Pieces of turquoise were not selling in a vacation stop at the price intended. Many of the activities to sell these were not working until such time as the price point was doubled. The turquoise then flew off the shelves because people equated high price equals with high quality.
As you can guess, the bargain that was really present was for consumers that would have received more value with the original price more reflective of reality. The remaining chapters go into examples like this that, in turn and with increasing degrees of cleverness or manipulation, demonstrate how those aware of the psychological tricks in play can wield psychology as a weapon for or against the consumer.
The second chapter gets into reciprocation, or the notion of repaying in kind what another person has provided us. The third chapter gets into commitment and consistency. To quote Cialdini directly, it “is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
(The six tools, or weapons, of influence)
In discussing social proof in chapter four, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion points out that people will often look to what others consider acceptable to consider what the appropriate course of action should be. A seemingly harmless example of this would be a laugh track on a television program, such as one might hear on the popular CBS Television series The Big Bang Theory. A more harmful example of social proof might come about when, among a crowd of bystanders, nobody helps when a person goes into an epileptic seizure that could be aided with emergency assistance.
Liking gets discussed in chapter five using examples like Tupperware sales, referring friends in charitable solicitations, and even in combination with people tending to rely on the social proof of people they like over the social examples of folks they dislike.
In chapter six, Cialdini gets into the notion of how thinking sometimes does not happen to the proper level because of the perceived authority of one person over another. A comedic example of this effect was in the citation of medical dosing mistakes by Temple pharmacology professors Michael Cohen and Neal Davis. The case in point attributed the deference to an attending doctor’s authority when a nurse treated a patients right ear ache by placing the ear drops as directed into the patient’s rear end.
The seventh chapter of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion gets into scarcity. The notion in play is that people tend to crave that object of a potential loss more than an equivalent gain in value. That is, people tend to favor harder to possess things than easier to possess things. Folks also tend to hate losing freedoms. It is this notion that makes things available for a limited time.
As Cialdini pointed out in the epilogue, much of this reviewed book aims at drawing out examples wherein single, highly representative pieces of the total can be helpful shortcuts while also leading us to clearly stupid mistakes. The notion for where mistakes happen reflects how Cialdini thinks these psychological points have been made into weapons. I give Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion 3.5-stars out of 5.
Matt – Wednesday, November 22, 2017