The Principles of Persuasion

There are six principles of persuasion. Here they are and what they mean.

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Robert Cialdini proposed six principles of persuasion in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” These principles outline the psychological factors that influence people to do certain things and act certain ways. The six principles of persuasion are as follows:

1. Reciprocity: Robert Cialdini stated that people feel obligated to return favors or concessions. He explains that when someone does something nice for us or provides us with something of value, we tend to feel obliged to reciprocate the gesture. This can be completed in several ways, such as by offering small gifts, favors, etc. which makes people feel like they owe something to the person that gave them the offering.

2. Scarcity: People tend to perceive items or opportunities that are limited or scarce as more valuable. In economics, when products and services are scarcer, they tend to also be more expensive and more valuable. Imagine when there are limited items being sold at a store and they are sold out in a matter of minutes. When something is perceived as rare or exclusive, it becomes more desirable.

3. Authority: People tend to follow and respect those who are perceived as experts or figures of authority. For example, listening to your school’s principal when you were in school. The principle of authority states that individuals are more likely to comply with requests from authoritative figures or those who possess specialized knowledge. Cialdini explains that this principle can be applied by establishing credibility, displaying expertise, or referencing authoritative sources.

4. Consistency: People have a strong desire to be consistent with their previous commitments, beliefs, or actions. Once individuals make a public or written commitment, they are more likely to stick to it to maintain consistency. For instance, you tell someone you will meet them for coffee and schedule the rest of your day around this commitment. This principle can be applied by obtaining small initial commitments and gradually increasing the level of commitment over time. As you receive more commitments from this person, you can start to notice that it has gone from hanging out to asking for favors and getting you to do things that conflict with your schedule or your normal way of doing things more and more.

5. Liking: People are more likely to be influenced by those they like or perceive as like themselves. The principle of liking suggests that building rapport, finding commonalities, and showing genuine interest in others can increase the likelihood of persuasion. This principle can be applied by finding similarities, offering compliments, or building relationships. Think about it: are you more likely to listen to someone who is completely different than you are or someone who is more like you?

6. Social Proof: People often look to others to determine how to behave in certain situations. The principle of social proof suggests that individuals are more likely to comply with requests or adopt certain behaviors if they see others doing the same. This can also be seen in psychology as the bystander effect. In influencer marketing, this is extremely common. An influencer will purchase a product and advertise it and it will gain traction on the internet and sell quickly.

These six principles of persuasion provide insights into the psychological mechanisms that influence human behavior and can be applied ethically in various settings, such as sales, marketing, negotiations, and personal interactions.

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