For thousands of years, persuasion has been recognized as a basic skill of the educated person. It was taught in the universities of Europe as one of the liberal arts to be mastered, and it has been elevated by preachers to a fine art that can inspire any number of actions, from virtuous behaviour to religious pilgrimages. In the modern era, however, persuasion is perhaps most visible in the form of advertising.
In this book, New York Times bestselling author Robert Cialdini—a leading expert in influence and persuasion—explains how to use the science of why people say yes to help you achieve your goals, both professionally and personally. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, this updated edition of the widely acclaimed international bestseller demonstrates how to apply these proven insights ethically in both business and everyday life.
The theory behind persuasion, as analyzed by behavioral scientists, is that a person who is exposed to persuasive communication finds some way to compromise with conflicting forces—existing attitudes and desires, new information and the social pressures generated from sources outside of the individual. The person must yield to, or agree with, the basic conclusion urged and must retain this position for long enough to act on it.
Cialdini suggests that mastery of the six universal principles of persuasion enables advertisers to change public opinion, allows the military to recruit a steady stream of new soldiers and helps the car dealer Joe Girard move cars like nobody else on earth. He says that persuasion doesn’t work through charm or magic, or by dumb luck; it works because the persuaders understand how to appeal to a limited set of deeply-rooted human drives and needs.
For example, the first principle, Liking, explains that people prefer to work with and support those they like. For this reason, charismatic naturals are able to capture audiences, sway the undecided and convert the opposition. Interestingly, the same principles that allow these “naturals” to be so effective can be learned and applied by anyone willing to invest time in study and practice.
Another important principle is Scarcity. People want what they can’t have, and a sense of urgency—either real or perceived—increases the desire. This is why airlines and hotel chains commonly display such messages as, “Only 5 rooms left at this price,” or why consumer goods firms produce “limited edition” products.
The fourth principle is Commitment and Consistency. People are more likely to be persuaded by those who demonstrate a commitment and consistency to the cause in question. This is why, for example, political candidates frequently tout their voting records and why some churches are more persuasive than others in convincing members to attend services regularly.
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