Book Review: Influence–The Psychology of Persuasion.

I recently read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, PhD.

Highly recommend:  I thought this was an entertaining read, and essential for anyone who interacts with others in making decisions (that is, everyone).


In the book, Dr. Cialdini explains a set of compliance triggers.  These include:

  • Social Proof–the idea that we look to others to know what to do
  • Consistency–that we all want to be consistent to the view we have of ourselves
  • Comparison–we tend to judge our options by what they’re compared with, rather than to an objective baseline, and that comparison changes our willingness to comply.

For each trigger, Dr. Cialdini provides a detailed explanation, a humorous example of how it works in the real world, and ideas for mitigating its impact.  While the book is focused on the interaction between people, many of these ideas can also be helpful for supporting personal change.

I felt like the book was filled with interesting stories and examples.  However, I thought the most important insight was at the beginning.  The author points out that in a world of increasing complexity, we will all use these compliance triggers more and more in making our decisions.  Here’s the quote:

“…each principle is examined as to it’s ability to produce a distinct kind of automatic, mindless compliance from people, that is, a willingness to say ‘yes’ without thinking first.  The evidence suggests that the ever-accelerating pace of informational crush of modern life will make this particular form of unthinking compliance more and more prevalent in the future.  It will be increasingly important for the society, therefore, to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of automatic influence.”

Since reading the book, I can’t stop seeing these influence techniques in media, advertising, and interactions at work.  Because of this, I highly recommend this book.

Happy reading, and stay encouraged!

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