Professor Robert Cialdini in his book “Influence: The Science of Persuasion” outlines six principles of ethical persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency.
- Reciprocation – People tend to return a favor. Thus, the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing. In his conferences, Cialdini often uses the example of Ethiopia providing thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after the 1985 earthquake, despite Ethiopia suffering from a crippling famine and civil war at the time. Ethiopia had been reciprocating for the diplomatic support Mexico provided when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1937.
- Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honor the agreement. For example, in car sales, suddenly raising the price at the last moment works because the buyer has already decided to buy. See cognitive dissonance.
- Social Proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic. See conformity, and the Asch conformity experiments.
- Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts. Cialdini cites incidents, such as the Milgram experiments in the early 1960s and the My Lai massacre.
- Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them. Some of the many biases favoring more attractive people are discussed. See physical attractiveness stereotype.
- Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales.
If your idea is scarce or has a limited window to act – do you tell your listener? Do you help others out before asking for their help? Do you look for hobbies or interests in common to establish a bond of liking before making your requests? Is is good to use these moments of power? Is it lazy to waste these moments as they naturally come up in your life? What do you think?
2 nights of great football
Manchester United vs FC Barcelona… My two favourite teams in the footballing world are through to the final of the Champions League… it will be tough to decide where my heart lies 😉