What Are Cialdini’s 7 Principles Of Persuasion?

Curious to know what are Cialdini’s 7 principles of persuasion? These principles include reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking, social proof, and unity.

Robert Cialdini, the author of the best-selling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, explains that people use mental shortcuts, also known as heuristics, to make decisions.

He describes 7 shortcuts, how to use them, and how to protect yourself from them. His insights can be helpful for anyone, whether you are trying to influence others or being influenced by them.

When making a decision, we’d all like to think we consider all the facts and figures, but let’s face it, life is hectic, and we often have to rely on shortcuts or “rules of thumb” to get us through.

Principle of Reciprocity

Reciprocity teaches us that if someone does us a favor, we need to return it somehow. This is rooted in psychology, as humans don’t want to feel like they owe someone anything. Therefore, offering discounts and other concessions is a way to balance the scales and avoid feeling indebted. Make sure it’s something special you wouldn’t normally do, and make it personal.

When a friend invites you to their party or a colleague does you a favor, there is an implicit expectation that you also do something for them. This can create a sense of obligation, making people more likely to return the favor when asked.

Further reading: Why Is Reciprocity So Powerful?

Principle of Scarcity

Cialdini’s scarcity principle states that people are more motivated to avoid losing something than to gain something. Additionally, rare or scarce things are often perceived as more valuable. This can attract others by emphasizing the rare qualities that set you or your product apart.

If you want to succeed in convincing people to choose your products and services, it’s not enough just to share the benefits they can gain from investing in them. You should also demonstrate what makes your offer unique and what they stand to lose by not giving it due consideration.

Fear of missing out is a strong motivating force that can drive us to buy something quickly, especially if we’re told it’s the last one or a special deal is ending soon. This technique is regularly used by marketers to get people to buy their products.

Further Reading: Create Value Through Scarcity

Principle of Authority

People naturally tend to trust individuals they view as experts in a specific field. Science suggests that making your expertise known before influencing someone else is essential. Doing so will help you establish credibility and showcase your knowledge, allowing them to trust your judgment.

People tend to instinctively rely on the authority principle when making decisions. This means trusting someone in a position of power that their advice or orders will yield beneficial outcomes.

Possessing official titles, uniforms, and other trappings can lend the appearance of authority to a person. Cialdini says that people think these things don’t have as much power, but they actually do.

Principle of Consistency

Humans have an inclination toward consistency. This means that people are likely to act consistently with what they have expressed or done in the past.

Reputation is critical, and it’s essential to keep one’s word. People don’t usually like being viewed as a liar or undependable. Hence, they always try to honor them when they make public commitments. Keeping your promises can help you maintain a positive image and earn the trust of those around you.

Cialdini’s research revealed that people will not only do whatever it takes to remain consistent, but they will also feel satisfied with their decisions, even when the evidence proves otherwise. This shows how strong consistency can be in influencing behavior.

To utilize consistency to influence someone, you must obtain voluntary and open declarations of commitment. It is even better if these commitments are made in writing.

Further Reading: From Words to Action – The Power of Commitment and Consistency.

Principle of Liking

We are more likely to agree with those people we like. But what makes someone likable? Studies in persuasion science suggest that there are three major factors at play:

  • People tend to be drawn toward those similar to themselves,
  • People who offer compliments
  • People with whom they can work together to reach mutual goals

The Tupperware party is a perfect example of the principle of liking. Here, the host would invite their friends to their home and showcase a range of Tupperware containers. Guests were allowed to purchase these containers, allowing the host to gain a commission for every item sold.

Initially, the items were sold directly through physical stores, but that strategy failed. In 1951, Tupperware decided to stop selling its products in retail outlets and instead focus on “demonstration” parties. This was because these parties were more successful in terms of generating sales. People who attended the parties would often buy the containers not out of necessity or desire but to support the party’s host and help them gain commission.

Principle of Social Proof

When faced with uncertainty or many options, people tend to look to the actions of others as a means of validation. The more individuals engage in a specific behavior, the more likely it is that others will follow suit.

Additionally, when people perceive others to be similar, they are more likely to adopt the same behavior. This suggests that the behavior is socially acceptable and validated by the actions of others.

For example, we frequently conform to the decisions of our coworkers, and if they’re staying late at work, we’re more likely to do the same. Similarly, suppose a restaurant is always full. In that case, most people will consider it more appealing and be more inclined to try it.

Principle of Unity

This principle was a recent addition. People are more likely to work for the welfare of someone who they perceive as belonging to their in-group than they are for the interest of someone who does not.

They model their own actions and preferences after those of the group, making them more protective and tolerant of that member than others. You and your group gain from unity preferences.

In-group identification can be based on factors such as ethnicity, political affiliation, race, and sports team loyalty, as well as shared experiences, emotions, and perspectives. These shared characteristics can foster a sense of unity. However, it may be short-lasting and may require reinforcement through continued attention.

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