Influence - Robert B. Cialdini

Influence - Robert B. Cialdini

Have you ever bought something useless just because someone convinced you? Discover here how to avoid these situations and become an influential person through mental triggers!

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Every day people end up buying useless products just because they were induced to it. And this is not a fluke! Salespeople use mental triggers so natural that we cannot perceive it. Robert Cialdini shows in the book "Influence" how to protect yourself from these triggers and apply them to influence people.

Nowadays it's really difficult to make a sensible and rigorous decision through the analysis of advantages and disadvantages, for example. There are many products and services from the most diverse niches, and then we end up making a generic and quick decision.

In this book, Robert explains the 6 factor of persuasion, showing their application and tips to be protected from them. All of this is based on his studies about the psychological factors that influences our decision-making.

Got interested to learn more about? Stay with us in this summary!

About the book "Influence"

"Influence: Science and Practice" is a famous work of Robert Cialdini. In his book, Cialdini explains how the persuasion procedure works and presents the six factors that underlie and are responsible for influencing people to reach the YES, separated into six chapters.

The six factor for persuasion are: reciprocity, coherence, social approval, affection, authority, and scarcity.

Robert emphasizes what we can do to "protect" ourselves from the experts in taking advantage of our hasty reactions and in the same way, it also enables us to develop the power to persuade.

About the author Robert B. Cialdini

Robert B. Cialdini, Ph. D. is Professor Emeritus of Marketing and Psychology at Arizona State University. He is the most recognized and respected professional in the field of influence and persuasion.

His book is based on 35 years of studies and research on the phenomena of influence, manipulation and persuasion. "Influence: Science and Practice" and others of his work such as, "Pre-Suasion", have already been published in 26 different languages.

He is also president of the international company Influence At Work. He works with consulting, training and strategic planning, focused on concepts related to persuasion. Google, Microsoft and Coca-Cola are some of his customers.

To whom is this book indicated?

This book is suitable for all sales or marketing professionals. In addition, the contents of this work can also help people say no to these professionals with awareness and respect.

So, if you are looking forward improving your persuasion skills and avoid some common mistakes in this area, this book is definitely for you!

Main ideas of the book "Influence"

  • Understand the six psychological principles that influence client decision-making;
  • The growth of the complexity and diversity of the world has generalized the decision-making by shortcuts (fast, without thought or complete analysis);
  • The vulnerability of people being exploited by the weapons of influence and persuasion;
  • Learn how to defend yourself from shortcuts and don't buy products or services that offer persuasive advertising or even misleading.

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[Book Summary] Influence - Robert B. Cialdini

Overview: Weapons of Influence

According to Robert Cialdini, everyone uses influence and are also their target. He explains that the persuasion practitioners know exactly what they want and where to get, for that, they use six psychological principles to achieve their goals.

Through them, it is possible to awaken in the subconscious of people an automatic consensus, or as called by Cialdini, mental shortcuts. Some examples are:

  • "Expensive is good";
  • "If a specialist said, then it is true";
  • "Good is beautiful".

Advancing Mental Shortcuts

Making decisions quickly is helpful as it saves time and mental energy, since in today's world we have thousands of things to do, whether at work or college, and we are too busy to make less relevant decisions.

The disadvantage of mental shortcuts

The disadvantage in accepting things automatically lies in the vulnerability that we are subject to. In this way, we are exposed and at mercy of the weapons of persuasion, which can make us take wrong decisions.

Learn how to defend yourself

In order to not accept the easy influence of the principles of persuasion, we must, according to the author, know them well and also know their ideal conditions of use, only in this way will we be truly protected from them.

Overview: Reciprocity

Have you ever heard about the popular saying "It is giving that you receive"? It is with this sentence that the author begins this chapter: Reciprocity.

Well, the concept of reciprocity is based on this and according to Robert Cialdini:

"We are obliged to repay in the future the favors, gifts, invitations and the like."

By this way, Cialdini, through his studies, wanted to demonstrate that most people have a strong feeling related to retribution, that is, to offer back, in an equivalent way, as far as possible, what someone previously gave.

While beneficial, helping build relationships and cooperation, persuasion practitioners use reciprocity by granting privileges or permissions before even a prospective client can make any request.


An example quoted by the author to use reciprocity is the technique called "rejection followed by indent".

It basically consists of asking a favor that you are sure will not be accepted and then, after rejection, you request a new but "minor" favor, which makes accepting more likely.

Asking a person to "like" your store's page on social media after trying to get him to register the email on your site is an example.

Learn how to defend yourself

In order to comply with your "social obligation" and be consistent you must accept the favor. But make an analysis of this favor, if you observe that is only a sales technique, you don't have to retribute it.

Overview: Commitment and Coherence

Coherence becomes a powerful shortcut when used to solve similar situations as society values.

When someone has an opinion formed, that is, the person has already made a decision in the past, he/she is more likely to make the same decision when faced with a similar situation in the future, explains Robert Cialdini.

It is as if the individual had made a commitment to keep his thought, avoiding contradiction, "going back" on a choice or being inconsistent in his decision.


Many practitioners of persuasion benefit from the concept of coherence through the "foot in the door technique".

This technique is the closing of small and inexpensive agreements or contracts to then, after acceptance of the idea by the client, its extension to similar but more complete and expensive applications.

Another important technique is the "wilted ball". The customer is "gifted" with a pseudo - price able to make him buy or accept a product or service, however he may be surprised by a shipping charge, for example, that leaves the final price higher.

Learn how to defend yourself

It is difficult to completely eliminate coherence, but Cialdini portrays in the book "Influence" that we need to separate it from commitment. If you feel you are being passed on, the author suggests that you raise the following questions:

  • "If I could go back in time, aware of where this decision got me, would I make the same choice?"

Overview: Social Approval

There is within the human being a sense of need to be recognized and also join groups, this is obvious, since we are social creatures.

In this way, people tend to believe or rely on other decisions in two situations that are very evident: when they are insecure (feeling of uncertainty) or when they have common interests (feeling of similarity).

  • Uncertainty people tend to seek referrals in other individuals to lean on, a truth to believe and to welcome.
  • Similarity: they are prone to ally and follow the leadership of other people who think the same way.


Although social approval has an important principle with respect to what is right for society, according to the author, when it becomes a shortcut, it can be used to deceive people.

Surely you've seen a TV series, usually a sitcom, with those "laughter" forced into the background. Another common example is the expression "this is the product that sells the most in our region".

Learn how to defend yourself

Social approval has a tremendous inconvenient effect for us, called "pluralistic ignorance", because of the effects of similarity and uncertainty, people tend to do what most do, whether good or bad.

So be careful! Have legitimate actions, whether original, not based on other people's actions alone.

Remember two things before you make a decision:

  1. People's opinions may change from time to time;
  2. Don't follow someone opinion only because everybody follows it. Be unique!

Overview: Affection

It refers to the affection and attachment that we have for someone, usually to important people in our lives. In this way, the relevance of this feeling is clear when it comes to persuading.


Influence professionals use affection as a weapon of persuasion to get closer to people, based on the following of attractiveness raised by Cialdini:

  • Physical Beauty: Beautiful people and attractive-looking products get more attention;
  • Similarity: As discussed in the previous overview, people like who looks like themselves;
  • Praise: a way to increase attachment and the feeling of affection (even when it is not sincere and true);
  • Familiarity: the contact and the cooperation increase the approaches and affection, generating a feeling that we can count on other people.

Learn how to defend yourself

It is very complicated to counteract the influence of affection, they really mess with the human being.

So you must focus on the consequences. When you feel that you are liking too much of a seller, a product or service, be alert!

Try to make a brief analysis of the real advantages in relation to what is being presented to you.

Overview: Authority

According to Robert Cialdini, society values, respects and obeys authentic authorities such as police officers, judges and doctors.

Once they know what they are doing and saying, they ground the systems that guarantee social defense, justice, and health for people. In this way, they have authority over the individuals of a group.

The author portrays the idea that is most evident when someone says about authority: "If a specialist said it, it must be true". It is definitely a mental trigger.


One of the most notorious examples cited by the author is in the medical field. Most people unquestioningly accept a doctor's recommendations, few seek second opinions.

Cialdini presents that there are three categories of effective authority symbols: titles, clothing, and cars. He further confirms, through his studies, that people who have these symbols are respected and have authority.

These symbols can be easily modified and altered by persuasion experts.

Learn how to defend yourself

Accepting authority as a shortcut without validating the arguments and ideas put forward by a person can be very risky, mainly because of the false symbols.

In this way, the book "Influence" presents two questions that help you think better about the authority issue:

  • "Is this authority really an expert?"
  • "Am I sure the expert is honest?"

Overview: Shortages

Do you know the expression "you only give value when you lose it"? It is related to the concept of scarcity and how people behave in face of this factor.

According to the author, scarce products, information and services, that is, those that are lacking or in limited quantities, are the most valued. This value effect is intensified when there is competition for the missing opportunities.

The scarcity principle is efficient due to two main reasons:

  • Possible Quality Indicator: the most difficult and rare things to achieve are more valued;
  • Psychological reactance: when the freedom of having something diminishes, people tend to want this thing even more.


The two main techniques used by the persuasion experts are: limited quantity and limited time. Often ads are stamped with slogans that portray well the use of these techniques:

  • "Buy it now, there are only five units remaining!"
  • "The 30% discount is valid until the end of the week".

Some sites on the internet often use timers to count the remaining time and leave the quantity of remaining products displayed to customers. This incites the buyer, awakening their sense of urgency.

Learn how to defend yourself

The principle of scarcity, coupled with a sense of urgency, ends up blocking our critical thinking, causing a sense of despair, especially if we are competing for a specific item with other people.

Robert Cialdini suggests that we have to be calm. You should ask yourself:

  • Why do I need this?
  • How much do I want it?
  • Does it have all the functions I'm looking for?

What do other authors say about it?

Regarding expert advice, Nassim Nicholas Taleb in "Black Swan", warns that some subjects cannot have specialists, because the phenomena that the specialist should know are inherently and totally random.

In the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People", Dale Carnegie also talks about praise as a way to influence. One of the strongest characteristics of human behavior is the desire to be valued by others. We all like to get compliments and hear that we are doing a good job.

In "Buyology", the author Martin Lindstrom explains how the today's marketing is related to neuroscience, showing the relationships between a good advertisement and our intentions to buy.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

The book addresses the six tools of persuasion, what they are, how we can apply it, and how we can be protected from it.

In this way, Cialdini brings two main uses: learn how to sell being a professional of honest persuasion and also how not to buy impulsively and automatically.

The most important thing after reading these lessons is to start paying more attention to salespeople, observing if they are using persuasive strategies. If you identify this tools on their speech, remember the ways you can avoid being persuade learned here!

On the other hand, if you are a seller, try to incorporate the mental triggers in your daily life, making it seems natural when talking with someone. The only way to be an expert on persuasion is training!

Did you like this summary of the book "Influence"?

Are you ready to apply those knowledges in your life? Did you find this content useful? Leave your feedback in the comments!

If you got interested to learn all the book's teachings, don't hesitate to buy the full edition by clicking on the image below:

Book 'Influence'