Don’t miss out on this unique educational opportunity! Read on …

While shoveling snow today, I had the pleasure of listening to a Princeton University UChannel podcast of a fascinating & useful lecture given by Professor Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion on 25-January-2007 at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in which Professor Cialdini outlined 6 principles of persuasion that his survey & experimental research has demonstrated to be the most effective modes of influence for affecting human behavior:

  • Reciprocity: create an obligation by giving first, then asking for behavior;
  • Scarcity: present opportunity as rare or dwindling in availability, phrase in terms of loss of positive benefits if choice not made, highlight unique features;
  • Authority: make appeal from legitimately constituted (knowledgeable & honest) expert, build trust by offering weakness of proposal first, then pivoting to strongest argument;
  • Commitment & Consistency: specifically ask for agreement;
  • Liking: spend time building common ground & interests, make appeal from someone like the target audience or show that others like the target are doing the same thing, segmenting market as necessary;
  • Consensus: present the social norm in such a way that marginalizes the unwanted behavior and shows the preferred behavior as normal.

The last point I found especially interesting, as one can readily see the error of many public service marketing campaigns which actually promote the behavior they intend to reduce by increasing its social acceptability in dramatizing its incidence, a tragic mistake for which Cialdini provides empirical evidence & illuminating examples. I also thought the importance of consensus bolstered the case for the “broken window theory“, which while it has been discredited as significantly causative factor in influencing unsocial behavior in general, certainly must play a role in influencing the prevalence of like behavior.

While it won’t make you a marketing expert overnight, I highly recommend that anyone with the responsibility to influence others listen to the podcast or read the transcript. (All of your friends are doing it.)