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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Powers of Persuasion

Robert Cialdini, PhD, is known for his book, "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion." Cialdini studied the power of persuasion intensely to understand the "weapons of influence" he outlines in his book.

Being persuasive can have its perks, but one must remember that one can use these "weapons of influence" for the greater good such as changing laws and policies and promoting environmental activism. Cialdini has even helped reduce household energy consumption through a study that used one of these "weapons of influence" (Price, 2011).

These "weapons of influence" Cialdini outlines are the following:

Reciprocity: It is in our nature to desire to return favors (Cialdini, 2008).

Example: I donate to a charity, the charity reciprocates my donation with address labels.

Commitment and Consistency: We try to do what we profess (especially publicly) and think (Cialdini, 2008).

Example: I tell people I am going to redecorate my house, and feel they will expect to see a redecorated house in the future.

Social Proof: We look to our peers to decide if our behavior and thoughts are acceptable comparable to them (Cialdini, 2008).

Example: I want to get a large order of fries, but my friends are getting salads, this can persuade my decision.

Authority: We look to those in charge (in places of authority) to make decisions about our thoughts and actions (Cialdini, 2008).

Example: I figure since a person is in a position of authority, he or she automatically knows what he or she is talking about or doing, and decide to follow along.

Liking: We are easily persuaded by those we like, those who give us good feelings (Cialdini, 2008).

Example: I go shopping and a salesperson compliments my dress, since he or she has gave me positive feelings, I am more apt to buy something from him or her

Scarcity: We desire what is rare, or what will only be available for a short time (Cialdini, 2008).

Example: An offer is only available for today and only today, so I feel I must act immediately.

These weapons of influence can be very powerful, just imagine using them to change the world for the better!


Cialdini, R. B. (2008). Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (5th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Price, M. (2011). Tapping our Powers of Persuasion. Monitor on Psychology, 42(2), 28-31.

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