Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

A couple weeks ago I finally finished reading the revised edition of the book Influence, from Dr. Robert B. Cialdini (HarperCollins, 2007). In my opinion, this book is small treasure. I strongly recommend it.

The book starts by describing this effect of substitution, in which a small stimulus evoques a certain pattern of behavior in animals. Including us. And it goes on by describing some different ways in which we can end up acting in an “automatic” way, based on some conforming strategy that influences us.

Reciprocation, Commitments and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority and Scarcity. These are the main so-called “weapons of influence”, which makes a lot of sense when the author goes through them. And, the best part, is that every chapter with each one of these “weapons” finishes with a small guide on how to avoid being trapped into them.

Conforming strategies are very well spread. Their success is based on what could be called “bugs” in our human psych. As per other animals, small shortcuts which served us extremely well along the evolution of the species, opened also up for some simple manipulation. Especially now that we, as humans, have greatly enhanced our own reality with a multitude of physical goods and non-tangible structures of meaning.

This book is a reminder of some basic facts about us, as well as a manual to act more consciously against those who may want to explore some of our intrinsic mental weaknesses.