February 28th, 2015
It is nice to get people to do stuff you like. And luckily, just by hanging out with the people around you, you probably already found a lot of ways to accomplish this.
What you may not know, however, is that most of these different motivations stem from just 6 universal principles of influence. Psychology and Marketing expert Robert Cialdini wrote a popular book, Influence: Science and Practice, about this in 1984 and marketeers have been living by it ever since. Knowing this may help you to actually walk passed the salesman next time instead of signing up for another newspaper or good cause again.
Here are his 6 reasons you and others say “yes”:
Be aware if someone is unexpectedly nice to you: receiving a favour automatically triggers you to want to return it. You wouldn’t say it with the American creditcard culture flourishing, but we just don’t like to be in debt. Very friendly indeed, but not so practical.
Limited Edition! Only Available Now! You Just Won something because you’re the Unique number 100.000 to visit of our website! If something is rare, it’s attractive. Because if you don’t buy it then, it will almost feel like you actually lost something. Great trick of the mind. Also works with love: playing hard to get.
Commitment and Consistency
If you already complied to do something little for a cause, you’re more likely to do something big as well. We start asking ourselves: Why did we do that little thing in the first place? It is all about our need to feel consistent. That is also why it is always wise to let people talk about what they are going to do, it increases the chances of them actually doing it.
Consensus or Social Proof
We like to do what other people do. Cialdini showed this is a stronger motivator for hotel guests to reuse their towels than just helping the environment, the next generation, or the hotel itself, as the signs usually say. A sign that noted that most of the other hotel guests re use their towel increased compliance with 28 percent.
This sounds obvious, but there is more to it. Potential buyers or volunteers do not always have to like the work or product that is offered to them. It also helps if they like the seller. This ‘liking’ can be increased rather easily by flattering them or making them familiar with the organization with repeated contact: advertisement.
You probably heard about the Milgram experiments, where subjects gave fatal electric shocks to others just because someone in an impressive outfit told them to. It is freaky, but it is true.
Which one of these principles works best differs across individuals and cultures, however, as Cialdini himself showed with an experiment on American versus Polish participants. He asked them to volunteer in a marketing survey, convincing them in two different ways. He either pointed out their earlier compliance to these requests (consistency) or he told them about the compliance of others (social proof). As expected, this last trick seemed to work best on the, generally more collectivistically raised, Polish subjects, whereas the usually somewhat more individualistic Americans were particularly influenced by their own history of compliance.
Photo: Flickr, fotoab.eu
Reference: Robert B. Cialdini, Wilhelmina Wosinska, Daniel W. Barrett, Jonathan Butner, Malgorzata Gornik-Durose (1999). Compliance with a request in two cultures: The differential influence of social proof and commitment/consistency on collectivists and individualists. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin DOI: 10.1177/0146167299258006
selling, sales, motivation, yes, convince, reciprocity, scarcity, cialdini, consistency, social proof, authority, liking