Influence – Science and Practice

October 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Blogroll, Theory of Influence | Leave a comment

In a comment to my post last week, a friend of mine suggested a book by Robert Cialdini titled “Influence – Science and Practice”. I find the book quite interesting. Here are some lessons from my initial reading of the book.

Stereotyped behavior is prevalent in much human action, because in many cases, it is the most efficient form of behaving . . . and in other cases it is simply necessary. The form and pace of modern life is not allowing us to make fully thoughtful decisions, even on many personally relevant topics. It is odd that despite their current widespread use of looming future importance, most of us know very little about our automatic behavior patterns. They make us terribly vulnerable to anyone who does know how they work. Here are a few examples.

One of the most potent of the weapons of influence around us is the rule of reciprocation. The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us. There is a general distaste for those who take and make no effort to give in return. A consequence of the rule, however, is an obligation to make a concession to someone who has made a concession to us.

Another interesting mechanism of influence is “Rejection-Then-Retreat”. One way to increase the chances that the person will comply is first to make a larger request of him, one that he will most likely turn down. Then retreat and draw real concessions from the opposite side.

Yet another mechanism often used is called “Commitment and Consistency”. Once we make a choice or take a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Whenever one takes a stand that is visible to others, there arises a drive to maintain that stand in order to look like a consistent person. Active commitments give us the kind of information we use to shape self-image, which then shapes future actions, which solidify the new self-image.

A smart person can use one or more mechanisms in combination to get what he wants; which may or may not be what we want. It makes a deadly weapon of influence. Whether we want to use or not is our choice but it certainly helps to prevent being tricked by others.

Any thoughts or comments?


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