Secrets from the Science of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin

secrets-from-the-science-of-persuasion croppedSecrets from the Science of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin is a great 12 minute video that shows the six factors that persuade people to say “yes” to requests of others –six shortcuts to decision-making.

  1. Reciprocity — the obligation to give back to others when they receive something first –basically returning a favor.  For example if someone invites you to a party, you will invite them to a party in the future.  In the context of a social obligation, people are more likely to say yes to those that they owe.  If a waiter or waitress leaves you a mint when they deliver the check, the tips people leave increase.  The key is to be the first to give, and  make sure what you give is personalized and unexpected.
  2. Scarcity — people want more of things that they can have less of.  For example, when British Airways cancelled their Concorde flights from London to New York, sales of tickets on the flight immediately increased.  If you are trying to persuade someone, be sure to describe what is unique about your offer and what they stand to lose if they decline.
  3. Authority — people follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts, even if the “expert” has a financial incentive in the transaction.  So arrange for someone to tell potential customers how brilliant you are.  One experiment with realtors led to an 20% increase in the number of appointments and 15% increase in the number of signed contracts.
  4. Consistency — People like to be consistent with what they have previously said or done.  You can activate consistency by looking for and asking for commitments that can be made.  Few people were willing to erect an ugly “Drive Safely” sign in their yard except for those who had previously put a small “Drive Safely” postcard in the window of their home.  The small card led to a 400% increase in agreements for the ugly yard sign.  Look for voluntary, active and public commitments and ideally get the commitments in writing.
  5. Liking – people prefer to say “yes” to people they like.   There are 3 factors that influence people to like us.  (1) people like people who are similar to them; (2) people like people who pay them compliments; and (3) people like people who cooperate with them towards mutual goals.  The recommendation, then, is to look for areas of similarity and share compliments before getting down to business.
  6. Consensus — especially when they are uncertain, people will look to the actions of others to determine their own.  In hotels, guests will most often re-use towels if there is a card that says 75% of the people who stayed in that room re-used their towels.  In fact, the card increased the frequency that people chose to re-use their towels by 33%.  The science says point to what others are doing to persuade people.  

I was thoroughly impressed with the content and presentation — this video makes it fun and easy to learn about the science of persuasion.


  • Nathan S. Gibson

    Nathan S. Gibson is an independent worker compliance business partner who provides expertise and creative solutions to enhance workforce flexibility and maintain compliance. He helps mitigate the risks associated with the misclassification of self-employed consultants, freelancers and independent contractors.

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