Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

4. Social Proof: Truths Are Us

  • People base many decisions by examining what others are doing or how they are believing. This is most influential when things are uncertain or ambiguous, when many people are doing the same thing, and when the people doing it are similar to ourselves. Robert uses the term peer-suasion when we follow people we know.
  • If you are trying to get people not to do something, be sure to point out that lots of other people are doing it. The fact that suicides and school shootings increase after well-publicized events is an example of this concept. People also tend to believe that trends will continue. You should look for counterfeit evidence (fake news) and not let this be your sole basis for making decisions.

5. Authority: Directed Deference

  • It is common for people to automatically defer to authority. We even respond to symbols of authority such as titles, clothing, and trappings. Most of us also underestimate the effect. Giving orders generates resistance and resentment. People prefer recommendations from someone who knows more than they do.
  • To establish trustworthiness, communicators will admit to minor shortcomings. We need to ask, is this person truly and expert? Then consider what the person has to gain from your compliance. If one has a lot to gain or lose, one is more likely to manipulate the facts or even lie.

6. Scarcity: The Rule of the Few

  • People assign more value to opportunities that are less available. Tactics like “limited number”,”deadline,” and “act now” are often used to boost sales. Things that are difficult to attain are typically more valuable.
  • In terms of information, limited access makes you want it more. If it’s exclusive or censored it will seem more valuable. Newly scarce information has a heightened value. We are also more attracted to resources that we have to compete for. Be alert to a rush of emotion when considering scarce items or information.
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