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Book Review: Influence -The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B Cialdini

Updated on January 10, 2013

A Book for the Intelligent Consumer

Have you ever read one of those books where, at first it's fascinating and then you realise, as you read on, that you've been caught in the trap the author's talking about yourself? Welcome to Influence.

This book is on the ways salesmen use social conditioning to influence us to buy. If you've ever walked out of a store clutching an item you'd never intended to buy then Cialdini will tell you how they managed to do it. I have to admit when I read this book I became more than a little embarrassed at the amount of traps I'd managed to fall into myself. But, then, knowing about the trap makes it easier to avoid it, doesn't it?

The book is not a dry text book, but rather Cialdini uses a combination of true stories and everyday language to illustrate his points. He shows us the six main methods that salesmen of all persuasions use to sell us goods and services that we may or may not want.

1. Reciprocation: Have you always wondered why organisations will give you free goods when it loses them money? It doesn't. It puts you under obligation to them.

2. Commitment and Consistency: Follow the yellow brick road, or in the case human interaction, one small step leads to the next.

3. Social Proof: Yes, people will follow the herd.

4. Authority: Regardless of what people might want to believe if we believe someone is an authority in an area we will follow and believe what they have to say.

5. Liking: Is that salesman really your friend? Did you buy because you liked him or because you wanted the product?

6. Scarcity: If you think that something might not be there tomorrow, you'll be more likely to pay a higher price now for the item, or buy the item even after the demand for it has passed.

This book is a real eye opener, and Cialdini is persuasive in his arguments. In this consumerist society it pays to be informed, and not just with cost comparisons. If you've ever wondered why you buy the things you do, and why you're more willing to buy an item, even if its at a higher price from one person than another, this book will answer your question. It's well worth adding to your bookshelf.


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