*A Book Review*

Influence—The Psychology of Persuasion

By Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.

by Michael C. Gray

December 29, 2000

As a marketing person, how would you like to better understand human nature, our "hot buttons" that make responding in a given way almost irresistible?

As a consumer, how would you like to know how you are being manipulated based on human behavioral tendencies, and how to defend yourself from these techniques?

Robert Cialdini, a social psychologist, has documented these behavior-based techniques in Influence—The Psychology of Persuasion.

According to Dr. Cialdini, these "hot buttons" developed as "short hand" methods of social behavior, that actually work for us most of the time. These behaviors can be exploited to get us to take actions that may not be in our best interest.

The task of the ethical sales person or organization is to use these techniques to help people take actions that are good for them. Having this knowledge carries the responsibility of using it with good moral judgment. Sometimes people can't resist the temptation to exploit others.

A classic example of a technique that Dr. Cialdini shares is using a gift to obligate someone. If we receive a gift, we are socially obligated to return the favor. Followers of the Hare Krishna movement used to exploit this social response by giving flowers and books to people in airports and then asking for a donation. This proved to be an almost irresistible approach. The people would try to refuse the gift to not be obligated, but the Krisha followers wouldn't let them.

One way to resist these techniques is to vocalize what the other person is doing. "You are trying to manipulate me into making a donation by obligating me with this gift." The exposure can help "break the spell."

Dr. Cialdini also explores mass behavior, such as the Jonestown Massacre and the tendency for an increase in accidents after a suicide story is published in the news. His purpose in discussing these behaviors is for the reader to be alert for his or her own protection. Maybe it's not such a good idea to take a plane flight on the day after a highly publicized murder or suicide.

To get a better insight into your own behavior and the behavior of others, and to understand how to use behavioral tendencies to influence others, to be aware of when you are being influenced and resist these techniques, study Influence, The Psyschology of Persuasion.

Buy it on Amazon: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition.

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