Mon Aug 24 16:09:02 PDT 2015

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini


Influence is an influential book - and it has permeated high-tech. For example, Joel Spolsky referred to it in a post on the influence that Microsoft were attempting to secure in the great Vista laptop blogger giveaway (Bribing Bloggers). A very short summary of the principles of influence follows:

  • Reciprocity
    • People try to repay favors - even when the repayment is unequal - free coffee in the car showroom and complimentary give aways at the supermarket are examples the potential for the generation of unequal feelings of indebtedness that we should be cautious of.
  • Commitment and Consistency
    • You have spent time in a given state and to change behavior would imply an inconsistency
  • Social Proof
    • What is in fashion with other pepole?
  • Liking
    • We are likely to follow the suggestion of people like ourselves whom we know and like.
  • Authority
    • People in white coats in the laboratory are the only trusted source for information about nutraceuticals
  • Scarcity
    • We are programmed to survive famine and, as the collectors know, possessing the completing item in the set can be overwhelmingly influential

If you have ever marvelled at the ability of everyone around you to spend inordinate amounts of money on 'plush' dolls, trolls or manufactured pop idols - this is a useful and explanatory book. The utility of the book is in exposing the strands of attack of the influencer - these are normally fairly obvious - but it is interesting to have the examples and the categorizations that Cialdini provides. It is also troubling to read of the potential consequences of influence in its most extreme and dire manifestations.

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