December 16, 2009

Influence, by Robert Cialdini

Posted in Behaviour at 07:42 by graham

As an Amazon reviews says, “arguably the best book ever on what is increasingly becoming the science of persuasion.”

If you want to understand why you felt compelled to give money to a Hare Krishna devotee, how car salesman or realtor’s work, and much more, you should read this.

It’s also a very easy and enjoyable read. These are my notes. They cover all the content in the book, but don’t link to research. In the book, most of the statements have links to research papers to back them up.

Get Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion from your local library, this has sold so many copies they are bound to have some.


We can process incoming information cognitively in one of two ways:

  • Controlled responding, which is subjecting information to a thorough analysis. This is when we think a problem through, research it, etc. We only do this if we have the desire and the ability. It is intellectually taxing and time consuming.
  • Use judgmental heuristics such as:

    • Price as surrogate for value. Applies particularly to items which are hard to value: Wine, jewelry, art, employee salaries, etc.
    • Trust experts. This is why pseudo-science books always have ‘PhD’ or ‘MD’ after the author’s name.
    • Because – we want reasons to do something, even bogus ones.

    Read the rest of this entry »