(by Robert Cialdini)

Influence 2

OK – quick Q: you are a shop assistant in a clothes store. You work on commission. A customer walks in and asks for a suit and a pullover. Which do you show them first? (A: at the end!)

‘Influence’ is considered to be The Bible of persuasion, and rightly so! What sets Cialdini apart from most other academics is that he wanted to see how people try to influence in others the real world. He therefore worked for estate agents, politicians, in a restaurant and in advertising. His book analyses his findings – 6 key principles:

  • ‘Liking’ (p. 143): The more likeable someone is, the stronger their power of influence. Moral: get your students to like you – they are more likely to learn from you and make a greater effort.
  • ‘Authority’ (p. 178): We are more influenced by people we perceive as knowledgeable. Moral: make sure your student know your teaching credentials and give them the rationale behind your methods.
  • ‘Social Proof – Consensus’ (p. 98): We are easily swayed by what (many) others do; esp our peers! * Moral: instead of telling students what to do, it is perhaps better to tell them that their friends are doing it!
  • ‘Consistency’ (p. 52): We use our earlier behaviour as a guide for what to do next. Moral: if you get your students to adopt a desirable behaviour once or twice (for whatever reason!) they may well go on behaving in the same way!
  • ‘Scarcity’ (p. 203): We value things more if they are rare. (In a fantastic study they gave people chocolate chip cookies; in some cases the jar contained 10 – in others only 2. Results: the cookies were rated as tastier in the latter case!! – p. 219). Moral: if someone asks you for private lessons, do not agree immediately; let them think you are busy… 🙂
  • ‘Reciprocity’ (p. 19): If someone does us a good turn, we feel the need to reciprocate. Moral: by doing little things for your students you ‘bind’ them and you can ask them to do all kinds of things later. Here is an important discovery – you can ask them to do a lot more! (p. 33)

OK – remember the initial Q? A: you show them the suits first! (p. 13) Why? If you show them the pullovers, they will buy an average-priced one (say E 50) but when you take them to the suits, they will suddenly seem expensive, so they’ll get a cheaper one (say E 150). Yet if you take them to the suits first, they will buy a normal one (say for E 200) and then the pullovers will seem cheap by comparison, so they’ll get one at E 70! Brilliant!  🙂

* Here is a study on Concensus:

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