Thursday, April 30, 2009

Principles of Ethical Influence, by Dr. Robert Cialdini

I'm always trying to promote the principles of ethical influence (by Dr. Robert Cialdini) to people, and I've recently discovered he makes them available in pocket guide form on his website, along with all his terrific books and other materials.

Click the image for more information:

The principles are:
  1. Reciprocation — You, then me, then you, then me…
  2. Scarcity — The rule of the rare.
  3. Authority — Showing knowing.
  4. Consistency — The starting point.
  5. Liking — Making friends to influence people.
  6. Consensus — People proof, people power.

The ethical use of influence means:
  • Being honest;
  • Maintaining integrity;
  • Being a detective, not a smuggler or bungler.
From Gerard Kroese's review of an article (reprint available for download) by Cialdini:
Cialdini believes that five decades of research by behavioral scientists shows that persuasion is governed by six fundamental principles that can be taught, learned, and applied. Each principle is named, linked to an application and discussed:

(1) The principle of Liking: People like those who like them, whereby two compelling factors reliably increase liking: similarity and praise.

(2) The principle of Reciprocity: People repay in kind, whereby the application is "give what you want to receive."

(3) The principle of Social Proof: People follow the lead of similar others. "Stated simply, influence is often best exerted horizontally rather than vertically."

(4) The principle of Consistency: People align with their commitments. The author's research "has demonstrated that most people, one they take a stand or go on record in favor of a position, prefer to stick to it."

(5) The principle of Authority: People defer to experts. "The task for managers who want to establish their claims to expertise is somewhat more difficult. ... A little sublety is called for."

(6) The principle of Scarcity: People want more of what they can have less of. "Study after study shows that items and opportunities are seen to be more valuable as they become less available. That's a tremendously useful piece of information for managers."

These 6 principles of persuasion are not new and have been known within the psychology field for around 10-20 years. However, in the form provided by Cialdini they are easy to grasp and understand.

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