Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
Updated: Mar 28
Imagine this, I offer you a job right now, fully paid, with a lot of benefits included - will you take it? Most of you would probably say yes. However, would you feel the need to “give something back?” Probably. Where does this need to give back come from? In certain situations, why do we feel as if we have to give back? In psychological terms, it’s called reciprocity - one of the six principles of persuasion mentioned in the book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.
Robert Beno Cialdini is the Regents' Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University and the author of the book Influence. In the book, Cialdini talks about six principles - Reciprocity, Commitment and Consistency, Scarcity, Authority, Liking, and Consensus in depth. These principles are the building blocks of social psychology, and they help us understand human behavior better. Additionally, marketing is all about understanding consumer behavior. We enjoy going to restaurants with good, friendly staff [Liking]; A limited edition product is more attractive than a normal product [Scarcity], these are just two of the six ways in which these principles can be applied to marketing.
This book connects the fundamentals of social psychology and marketing, and because marketing is all about how a consumer thinks, behaves, and makes decisions, these principles are worth keeping in mind. For me, I loved reading how Chaldaini talks about the principles in his book that might seem like common sense, but are often forgotten. One of my favorite examples of one of these principles is the case of Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna is a religious movement that used reciprocity to gain more donations. For example, Hare Krishna offers a stranger some gift, say a flower, and as the stranger accepts it they ask for donations or sign-up for some of their events. This way, as the stranger received something, they feel obliged to give back.
So, in my opinion, if you want to know more about consumers and their behaviors or even if you just want to have a general knowledge of how to persuade anyone, you should definitely read this book. If you end up reading this book or have any thoughts/questions, do share them below in the comment section!
Priyal Maheshwari is Marketing Society’s 2020-2021 Co-Director of Content. She is a sophomore at NYU Stern, concentrating in Marketing and Computing and Data Science with a minor in Astronomy. She is running One More Book - MktSoc’s Book Reviews, check it out here!