Influence vs Persuasion

Influence can be thought of as more underlying than persuasion. For instance, changing the behavior of a large group of people wouldn't be so much persuasion as it is influence, since we may not be interacting directly with this group.

whenever you want to change something in the world, you must first identify 1. the things that would support your change coming to fruition and 2. the things that would impede your change coming to fruition, and either augmenting #1 or reducing #2.

  • ex. you want to get women to start smoking, recognize the forces at play 1) women are more and more desiring to be slim; 2) smoking is seen as a man's activity.

7 Principles (Robert Cialdini)

The 7 principles are shortcuts that we as humans take to facilitate our being persuaded about something. Since we cannot realistically devote brain power toward rationalizing everything, we need shortcuts to arrive at these conclusions.

  • The concept of "influencing someone" is to point to those principles where they naturally exist. There is no deception involved, and in fact we are simply informing them into assent by simply raising the profile of that principle. Manipulation, on the other hand, involves the counterfeiting of those principles in order to arrive at assent.
  1. Social proof
  2. Reciprocity
  3. Authority
  4. Liking
  5. Commitment & Consistency
  6. Scarcity
  7. Unity

Social Proof (Popularity)

The more uncertain we are the more weight we will put into what we consider to be popular opinion.

  • naturally, "popular opinion" is from the perspective of the subject to be influenced. They will put more weight into groups they agree with.


Consider that a normal way of doing business: You give me money and I’ll give you this good in exchange. Reciprocity on the other hand, is about doing something for the customer first, in anticipations of receiving reciprocity later. This is a powerful tool that spans all cultures; virtually all humans do this.

ex. Consider the example of when we are doing a blood drive, and we go up to the person and we ask, "will you be a long-term blood donor for us, and donate blood every month for the next five years?". In response, they say they can’t do that, that it is too much of an obligation for them. In response we say "OK, well then can you do one donation tomorrow when one of our volunteers is in your neighborhood?". People respond positively 55% of the time if they were asked in this manner, as opposed to 33% if they were never asked to be a long-term blood donor at all.

  • The reciprocity here is that the resident of the house has experienced the blood drive solicitor give up a concession, so they felt the urge to give a concession as well.
    • Also consider that it’s not just the reciprocity, but is the magnitude of the reciprocity. The concession seems so much smaller in comparison to the original request, so it's considered to be "the least that one could do".

If you give someone something that is higher in their goal hierarchy, then they will reciprocate more to you.

  • ex. Consider the example at McDonald’s, where in one case, the restaurant gave keychains to people who would come to the restaurant. In the other case, the restaurant gave a milkshake to those who came in to the restaurant. In the second case, th amount of the expenditure was double that of the first.

When trying to convince someone who has an opinion that is different than yours, it is tempting to ask "why" questions. We ask, "why do you think that way?". However, this question pattern is not deft, because it is basically inviting the other person to succumb to their own confirmation bias. Here, you were asking them to provide you with a list of things that confirms why they believe what they believe. Instead, we should try asking "how" questions more.

  • ex. "How do you think it would work if we were to implement this idea?"
  • ex. "How is it that you came to believe what you believe?"