Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion Essay

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Robert Cialdini, experimental social psychologist, created the six weapons of influence, which he discusses in detail in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” Cialdini identifies the six principles, or “weapons,” through experimental studies, discussing each in terms of their function in society. By immersing himself in the world of compliance professionals; salespeople, fundraisers, recruiters, marketers, and so on, Cialdini conveys how these professionals cleverly employ and convert the principles into requests for purchases, donations, concessions, votes, assent, etc. The six weapons; reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, and scarcity, are ‘examined as to its ability to produce a distinct kind of automatic, mindless compliance from people, that is, a willingness to say yes without thinking first.’ (Cialdini xiv) Chapter one, Weapons of Influence, focuses on the importance of developing an awareness of how our brains work in situations where these compliance professionals are attempting to persuade us. Cialdini begins the chapter with a story about a friend of his, who owns a jewelry store in Arizona. After noticing that her turquoise jewelry collection was not selling, even after a change to a more visible location for customers within the store, the jewelry still wasn’t selling. The owner scribbled a note for an employee, requesting to lower the price of the jewelry to “price X ½,” in hopes that the collection would sell. Due to being in a rush to leave and the owner’s jumbled handwriting, the employee read the note as “price X 2,” therefore doubling the price. When the storeowner returned, she was shockingly, but pleasantly surprised to see the entire collection of turquoise jewelry had been sold! Cialdini attributes this outcome to the stereotype “expensive = good.” The customers, mostly well off tourists, saw the

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