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Influence by Robert Cialdini

The full title of this book by Robert Cialdini is

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book Four Stars. This means it is Good and Well Worth Reading.

Here is my book review.

A classic book on influence and persuasion

I was thinking about his recent book Pre-Suasion and I realised that I’d never reviewed this classic.

I read this book after watching or listening to various training products by other persuasion or sales and marketing experts who drew heavily on Cialdini’s work and either acknowledged it or presented the findings as their own ideas.

This means that I didn’t come to the book and have the “wow moments” that I would have done if I’d have read it first. I’d already had the highlights and what I was left with was a technical book that was both interesting and hard going. That’s partly due to print size in my paper version which is smaller than I’d like. Sadly I found I was having to force myself to carry on reading.

I don’t want to undermine the importance of this book. I’m not sure of the issue sequence of the popular books on influence and persuasion but my impression is that if this wasn’t the first, it was one of the first when it was published in 1984.

His six factors of influence – reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity – are essentials to understanding how people can be persuaded to take action. It’s also a mental checklist that I keep returning to when I’m thinking about persuasion.

However, if you’re new to books on persuasion and influence, I don’t think this is the place to start. It’s too old and hard to read. There have been plenty of developments since 1984 on how people are influenced. As well as psychologists continued to research the topic, two new subject areas have developed that are directly linked in:

1) neuroscience which uses MRI scanning to identify which parts of the brain are activated by what triggers and how this relates to what the person wants to do.
2) behavioural economics which investigates the “fast thinking” processes and how they can be predictably irrational to quote Dan Ariely’s book title.

If you have a deeper interest in the topic of persuasion, then I feel you should come back to this early book. It’s hard to present yourself as an expert on persuasion if you haven’t read it.

You can get the book from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com


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