Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Review

This is the 4th personal finance book I had the goal of reading in 2023 for my personal finance resolutions. Here’s my Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Review, written by Rorbert B. Cialdini. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

My husband highly recommends reading this book and has read it a few times. I waited for this book from the library for months but he disclosed that he had a copy of it on his bookshelf which I didn’t notice (oh well, the one from the library was an updated version anyway).

On the cover, Charlie Munger says “This is the book that I give most often as a present and is my top recommendation”. If Charlie Munger says that it must be a good book… then it must be a good book…what a recommendation!

Who is Robert Cialdini?

Robert Cialdini is an psychologist, he is a professor of psychology at both the Arizona State University and Stanford University (visiting). He wrote Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and it has sold over 5 million copies. It has also been translated to over 40 different languages.

He worked three years “undercover” applying and training for jobs as a car salesman, telemarketing firms, and fundraising organizations to understand and apply these principles of persuasion.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Review

There are six principles of persuasion. These are reciprocation, liking, social proof, authority, scarcity, and commitment and consistency. Robert Cialdini adds unity as the seventh principal of persuasion in hist latest 2021 edition of the book.

Reciprocation. This is probably the most well known principle of persuasion, reciprocation. You receive something and you have positive feelings towards the person giving you a gift. You feel the need to reciprocate (even if you don’t realize it). Did you know that for restaurants that give a bit of candy or mints with the bill, the server receives more tip than if they didn’t give anything.

Recently at the candy store IT’SUGAR in Hawaii, we were given a free sample of a freeze dried skittle to try, of course my children loved it (the mall play area was strategically placed beside this huge candy store) and we ended up buying some candy, thanks to the subliminal principle of reciprocation.

Liking. He gives a clear example of the Tupperware home parties. There are powerful forces here at play. I remember going to a Silpada jewelry party invited by my coworker. She was so nice I really felt the need to buy something, so I bought some earrings. Another example of Joe Girard who was the number one car salesman for 12 years in a row (13,000 cars sold every year that’s SIX CARS A DAY) for the longest time simply because he mailed cards to his customers and previous customers “I like you” and developed a relationship with them. He was likeable.

People say yes to individuals that they like.

Social Proof. I’m a sucker for social proof and most of us are. When I’m at a restaurant or planning to order something, and I see “most popular” I usually order that one. Or I ask the server what the most popular dish is. Most people see a line up outside of a restaurant and they start lining up. Some restaurants even create “fake” line up to increase social proof. Amazon reviews are all about social proof. We are all lemmings to an extent.

Authority. Authority symbols tend to make us blindly comply. People who wear uniform. Robert Cialdini shares a study called the Milgram study which was shocking- how people could comply with the requests of authority even when they know it is morally wrong and they are causing suffering.

Scarcity. An example that the author gives is the principle of scarcity, of losing something that makes you want to covet and spur in action. People line up to try and get the new Apple iPhone each launch date. People don’t want to lose something so they will behave in a way that will prevent that loss and compete against others to get what they want.

An Hermes bag is a good example of the scarcity principle at work. These bags sell for at least $10,000 to $150,000 because of supply and demand. There is more demand than there are Hermes bags.

Commitment and Consistency. The author gives a great example of commitment and consistency. Each year there are fad toys that are a ‘must buy’ from Santa such as Beanie Babies, Tickle Me Elmo, Furbies, PlayStation. Toy manufacturers under supply these toys right before Christmas. Santa won’t be able to get what was on your child’s list. To counteract the sales slump in January, they have them available in January and parents dutifully buy these items that they weren’t able to get before Christmas.

Unity. In this newer edition of the book, he talks about Unity as the last principle of persuasion. People like others who have shared values and experiences and say yes when they feel they have shared identity with the person requesting compliance.

What I Liked about Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

First of all, I really liked that Robert Cialdini came off in the book as a humble individual. I think he called himself a patsy a few times. It was an entertaining read as he gave an example of his neighbour who stuck with her commitment-phobe boyfriend (she wanted marriage and she wanted him to stop drinking, she broke it off and ended up engaged with someone new, but the ex-boyfriend came crawling back and she chose the ex-boyfriend). He highlighted this example a few times with the premise of looking at the different princples involved with that situation.

I also liked the Reader’s Report, where readers of the book write their own experiences with the principles of persuasion.

Finally, I liked the photos in the book. It kind of felt like I was reading a psychology text book at times.

What I Didn’t Like About Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

The book is so chock full of information and examples, I feel like I need to read the book again to absorb it even more. It’s very detail oriented.

Robert Cialdini has a X account that you can follow for brief nuggets of psychological persuasion techniques to use with examples. You can follow him at @RobertCialdini on X (formerly Twitter).

Hope you enjoyed this brief book review, you can get this audbiobook for free with Kindle unlimited here from Amazon.

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