I read the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. I found the lessons to be enlightening. I could think about all those times when I was tricked by a salesman. Reflecting I realized it’s an important skill for everyone to learn. In our interactions every day we keep getting influenced and we keep influencing.
So here are major pillars of influence:
Social Proof: People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more accomplices would look up into the sky; the more accomplices the more likely people would look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up, that they stopped traffic.
Scarcity: Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales.
Liking: People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware–people were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them. Some of the many biases favouring more attractive people are discussed.
Reciprocity: People tend to return a favour. Thus, the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing.
Commitment and Consistency: If people agree to make a commitment toward a goal or idea, they are more likely to honour that commitment. However, if the incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honour the agreement. For example, in car sales, suddenly raising the price at the last moment works because the buyer has already decided to buy.
Authority: People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts.