Influence Summary

Using the Science of Influence to Improve the Art of Persuasion

The most widely researched form of influence is Social Influence and it's best known author / researcher is Robert Cialdini, Ph. D.

Dr Cialdini started researching influence when he found himself constantly with more "cookies" than he could eat (bought from girl guides) and a lot more kitchen appliances than he could ever possibly use. He wondered why he was constantly being influenced to buy stuff he didn't really need or want.

He then spent three years "undercover" applying for and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organisations, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion.

Robert then went on to reveal his theories and publish his groundbreaking book
"Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion"

Just before I go any further it might be appropriate to talk about the difference between influence and persuasion.
In the book "The Human Sales Factor", Lance Tyson puts it this way ...
"Without much reflection, the words persuasion and influence appear quite similar. But the two concepts are distinct, which require entirely unique skillsets to employ and master. ... Essentially, persuasion moves a person to think differently while influence ignites a behavior."

"When attempting to persuade and influence others, you really need to understand your own goals, as well as the mindset of person you hope to motivate. You have to ask yourself: Are you selling change? An idea? A concept? Or are you trying to get someone to do something? To invest? To purchase something?"

The Summary below was written by Robert and he permitted it's reprinting here.

"It is through the influence process that we generate and manage change.

As such, it is important for those wishing to create and sustain practical change to understand fully the workings of the this process.

Fortunately, a vast body of scientific evidence now exists on how, when, and why people say yes to influence attempts. From this formidable body of work, I have extracted six universal principles of influence--those that are so powerful that they generate desirable change in the widest range of circumstances."

Dr Cialdini explained these principles in his book and gave numerous examples.

In summary, these principles are:


People are more willing to comply with requests (for favours, services, information, concessions, etc.) from those who have provided such things first. For example, according to the American Disabled Veterans organisation, mailing out a simple appeal for donations produces an 18% success rate; but, enclosing a small gift--personalized address labels--boosts the success rate to 35%.

I have added ...

This principle operates in various aspects of our lives, from social interactions to marketing strategies.

To illustrate this concept further, let's consider a another example. Imagine you're organizing a charity event and need volunteers to help set up the venue. Instead of directly asking people to volunteer, you decide to apply the reciprocity principle. You first offer a small token of appreciation, such as a handwritten thank-you note or a small gift like a keychain or a personalized pen, to a select group of individuals. These individuals now feel a sense of obligation and are more likely to reciprocate your gesture by volunteering their time and effort for the event.

By understanding the power of reciprocity, you can effectively influence others' behavior and increase the likelihood of obtaining favorable responses to your requests. Whether you're seeking assistance, support, or cooperation, initiating with a small act of kindness can significantly enhance your chances of success.

Commitment and Consistency

People are more willing to be moved in a particular direction if they see it as consistent with an existing or recent commitment.

Consider how small that commitment can be and still motivate change forcefully: Gorden Sinclair, a Chicago restaurant owner, was beset by the problem of no-shows—people who made table reservations but failed to appear and failed to call to cancel.
He reduced the problem by first getting a small commitment.
He instructed his receptionists to stop saying, "Please call if you change your plans" and to start saying,
"Will you call us if you change your plans?"
The no-show rate dropped from 30% to 10% immediately.

In my words ... 
We generally don't like to be seen a "flighty" or someone who changes on a whim and is fickle and irresponsible.
So, once we start moving in a certain direction we are reluctant to change course.

Imagine you're trying to encourage people to be more environmentally conscious and recycle their waste regularly. Instead of simply advocating for recycling, you employ the principle of commitment and consistency. You approach individuals and ask them a question like, "Do you consider yourself someone who cares about the environment?" By posing this question, you are prompting them to acknowledge their commitment to environmental concerns.

Once individuals affirm their commitment, they are more likely to engage in behaviors consistent with their stated belief. In this case, if you follow up by providing them with a recycling bin and reinforcing the importance of recycling, they will be motivated to act in line with their commitment. Their increased likelihood of consistent recycling stems from the desire to maintain alignment between their beliefs and actions.


People are more willing to follow the directions or recommendations of a communicator to whom they attribute relevant authority or expertise. One study showed that 3 times as many pedestrians were willing to follow a man into traffic against the red light when he was merely dressed as an authority in a business suit and tie.

Social Validation

People are more willing to take a recommended action if they see evidence that many others, especially similar others, are taking it. One researcher went door to door collecting for charity and carrying a list of others in the area who had already contributed. The longer the list, the more contributions it produced.


People find objects and opportunities more attractive to the degree that they are scarce, rare, or dwindling in availability. Even information that is scarce is more effective. A beef importer in the US informed his customers (honestly) that, because of weather conditions in Australia, there was likely to be a shortage of Australian beef. His orders more than doubled. However, when he added (also honestly) that this information came from his company's exclusive contacts in the Australian National Weather Service, orders increased by 600%!


People prefer to say yes to those they know and like. For example, research done on Tupperware Home Demonstration parties shows that guests are 3 times more likely to purchase products because they like the party's hostess than because they like the products."

In his presentations, Professor Cialdini describes and emphasises the ethical use of these principles. Only through its non-manipulative use can the process be simultaneously effective, ethical, and enduring. And only in this fashion can it enhance a lasting sense of partnership between those involved in the exchange.

Robert B. Cialdini is Regents' professor of Psychology at Arizona State University in the United States.

So, the summary above refers to Social Influence,
or factors that influence the masses. 

BUT there are other forms of influence:

Since we are all individuals and have the capability of perceiving the same communication in totally different ways.
We can exert more influence if we understand Personal Influence and modify what we say depending on who we are talking to.
And this is much easier than you might think.
You don't have to learn the Myers-Briggs or the DISC Profiler to make use of this information.

And, when it's used well, language affects us profoundly.
Think about some of the great speeches in history and how those words moved the masses.
That's why Rudyard Kipling said
" words are the most powerful drug used by mankind".
I call this Linguistic Influence.

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