Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Mind Loom is when a book is distilled to key takeaways while ideas from other books are loomed in. You’ll never know what you’ll learn, but you always know you’ll be enlightened. -Omar M. Khateeb

Quick Look: The book discusses 6 key psychological tactics used by compliance practitioners (salesman, waiters, card dealers, fund raisers etc.) to influence us into saying yes to something to which ideally we would have said no. Mind Loom has distilled those key takeaways down and loomed ideas from other books to further enhance your knowledge. Happy looming!

There are 6 Key Principles to the psychology of persuasion:

Principle #1: Reciprocation

Reciprocation recognizes that humans feel indebted to those who do something for them or give them a gift.

The implication is you have to go first. Give something: give information, give free samples, give a positive experience to people and they will want to give you something in return.”


Social scientist Randy Garner published a 2005 experiment that tested whether sticky notes could persuade people to respond to a marketing survey.

He sent 1/3 of the surveys with a hand-written sticky note requesting completion, 1/3 one with a blank sticky note, and 1/3 one without a sticky note.


- Hand-written note: 69% response rate

- Blank sticky note: 43% response rate

- No sticky note: 34% response rate

[The principle of reciprocation] was born out in the fact that not only did those who received

the hand-written note have twice as much compliance, the quality of the answers they gave was significantly better.

Marketing/Sales Application

The reciprocation principle explains why free samples can be effective. People who receive a free, unexpected gift are more likely to listen to a product’s features, donate to a cause, or tip a waitress more money. The gifts do not have to be expensive or even material; information and favors can work.

MIND LOOM (Talk like TED by Carmine Gallo)

One principle of giving a great TED talk is presenting something novel to the audience. When you teach people something new you’ve added unexpected value to someone’s life.

MIND LOOM (Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and … Jim Davies)

Human beings are attracted to incongruity, apparent contradictions, novelty, and puzzles.

Art and religion both play on our love for incongruity and for pattern, pulling us in with something incongruous and then allowing us to feel pleasure when we discover an underlying meaning of pattern.

MIND LOOM (Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuck)

Give something away on social media up to 7 times (jab) before you ask for something (right hook).

So, when using reciprocation, teach something novel and with a bit of incongruity. Novelty recognition is a hard-wired survival tool all humans share. Our brains are trained to look for something brilliant and new.

Principle #2: Social Proof

When people are in doubt on what to do/think, they tend to look to those around them to guide their decisions and actions.

They especially want to know what everyone else is doing –especially their peers.

“Laugh tracks on comedy shows exist for this very reason,” Cialdini says.


Cialdini and a team of colleagues ran a soon-to-be published experiment to see which types of signs would most encourage Arizona hotel visitors to reuse towels. They tested four types of signs:

- #1 Cited environmental reasons to encourage visitors to reuse their towels

- #2 Said the hotel would donate a portion of end-of-year laundry savings to an environmental cause.

- #3 Said the hotel had already given a donation and asked: “Will you please join us?”

- #4 Said the majority of guests reused their towels at least once during their stay


Percentage of those who reused towels per request:

- Sign #1: 38%

- Sign #2: 36%

- Sign #3: 46%

- Sign #4: 48%

When guests found out that most people who stayed in the same hotel reused their towels, they were more likely to comply with the request.

An interesting point is that the most effective strategy was entirely costless to the hotel.

Marketing/Sales Application

Testimonials from satisfied customers show your target audience that people who are similar to them have enjoyed your product or service. They’ll be more likely to become customers


MIND LOOM (Tribes by Seth Godin)

One of the most powerful mechanisms of survival is to be part of a tribe, contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people.

Principle #3: Commitment and Consistency

People do not like to back out of deals. We’re more likely to do something after we’ve agreed to it verbally or in writing. People strive for consistency in their commitments. They also prefer to follow pre-existing attitudes, values and actions. This behavior increases with age.


In 1987, social scientist Anthony Greenwald approached potential voters on election-day eve to ask whether they would vote and to provide reasons why or why not. 100% said they would vote.


On election day, 86.7% of those asked went to the polls compared to 61.5% of those who were not asked.

Those who publicly committed to voting on the previous day proved more likely to actually vote.

Marketing/Sales Application

People want to be both consistent and true to their word. Getting customers or employees to publicly commit to something makes them more likely to follow through with an action or a purchase.

Ask your team if they’ll support your next initiative and say why.

Getting people to answer ‘yes’ makes them more powerfully committed to an action. For instance, don’t tell people: “Please call if you have to cancel.” Asking “Will you please call if you have to cancel?” gets customers to say yes, and measurably increases their response rates. *Age matters

The older we get, the more we value consistency. And that makes it harder for older people to make a change.

Researcher Stephanie Brown co-authored a 2005 study titled “Evidence of a positive relationship between age and preference for consistency,” published in the Journal of Research in Personality. The study confirmed the belief that older people become “set in their ways.”

The solution? Praise people for making good past decisions, based on the information they had at the time. Then find ways to stress the consistent values connecting old actions and purchases with values underlying any new actions or purchases.

MIND LOOM (Grow: How ideals power growth and profit at the world’s greatest companies by Jim Stengel)

The “Ideal Factor” was what made the “Stengel 50” so remarkable. The Stengel 50 are the top 50 companies that generated a return on investment 400% better than the S & P 500. The ideal factor had to do with the brand ideal of a commitment to improving people’s lives and doing so consistently. It was the only sustainable way to recruit, unite, and inspire all people a business touches, from employees to customers.

Principle #4: Liking

People prefer to comply and say ‘yes’ to those they know and like. People are also more likely to favor those who are physically attractive, similar to themselves, or who give them compliments.

Even something as ‘random’ as having the same name as your prospects can increase your chances of making a sale.


In 2005, Randy Garner mailed out surveys to strangers with a request to return them. The request was signed by a person whose name was either similar or dissimilar to the recipient’s.

According to a study reported in Yes!, “Those who received the survey from someone with a similar-sounding name were nearly twice as likely to fill out and return the packet as those who received the surveys from dissimilar sounding names (56% compared to 30%).”

MIND LOOM (How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie)

Principle 5 in this classic book teaches us to talk in terms of the other person’s interests. The number one thing people are interested in is themselves.

So mirroring another person’s interests and relating to them is one key to unlocking the “liking” principle.

Marketing/Sales Application

One of the things that marketers can do is honestly report on the extent to which the product or service — or the people who are providing the product or service — are similar to the audience and know the audience’s challenges, preferences and so on.

So , for instance, sales people could improve their chances of making a sale by becoming more knowledgeable about their prospects’ existing preferences.

Principle #5: Authority

People respect authority. They want to follow the lead of real experts. Business titles, impressive clothing, and even driving an expensive, high-performing automobile are proven factors in lending credibility to any individual.

Giving the appearance of authority actually increases the likelihood that others will comply with requests — even if their authority is illegitimate.


Stanley Milgram, Psychologist, Yale University, conducted a 1974 experiment where ordinary people were asked to shock ‘victims’ when they answered questions incorrectly. Those in charge were dressed in white lab coats to give the appearance of high authority.

The participants were told that the shocks they gave increased 15 volts in intensity each time the person answered incorrectly. In fact, the shocks were completely imaginary. Respondents were acting.

As participants continued to shock their victims, the respondents feigned increasing discomfort until they let out agonized screams and demanded to be released. Astoundingly, about two-thirds of participants ignored these cries of pain and inflicted the full dose of 450 volts.

“According to Milgram, the real culprit in the experiments was the [participants’] inability to defy the wishes of the boss, the lab-coated researcher who urged and, if necessary, directed them to perform their duties, despite the emotional and physical mayhem they were causing.”

Note: The participants in Milgram’s study were males from a range of age, occupation and education levels. Later research concluded that the subjects’ sex was irrelevant to their willingness to shock the victim.

Marketing/Sales Application

When people are uncertain, they look outside themselves for information to guide their decisions. Given the incredible influence of authority figures, it would be wise to incorporate testimonials from legitimate, recognized authorities to help persuade prospects to respond or make purchases.

MIND LOOM (The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson)

A challenger sales person is defined by the ability to do three things: Teach, Tailor, and Take control. The use of all three is the use of constructive tension. In doing so, one postures themselves as a trusted advisor, authority figure, and expert.

Principle #6: Scarcity

In fundamental economic theory, scarcity relates to supply and demand. Simply put, the less there is of something, the more valuable it is.

The more rare and uncommon a thing, the more people want it. Familiar examples are frenzies over the latest holiday toy or urban campers waiting overnight to pounce on the latest iPhone or lines for a club to get into VIP.


In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company made their infamous switch from their traditional formula to the sweeter formula “New Coke.”

Their taste tests indicated that 55% preferred the new Coke over the old. Most of those tests were blind, but some participants were told which formula was new and which was the original.

Under those conditions, the preference for new Coke increased 6%. Despite the taste tests, the switch to new Coke triggered incredible backlash against it. Time magazine later dubbed it “the marketing fiasco of the decade.”

“The company must have looked at the 6% difference between blind vs. non-blind preferences and said to themselves ‘Oh, good, this means that when people know that they’re getting something new, their desire for it will shoot up.’”

In fact, what that 6% really meant was that when people know what it is they can’t have, their desire for it will shoot up. Later, when the company replaced the traditional recipe with the new one, it was the old Coke that people couldn’t have, and it became the favorite.

Marketing/Sales Application

The tendency to be more sensitive to possible losses vs. possible gains is one of the best-supported findings in social science.

Therefore, it may be worthwhile to switch your advertising campaign’s message from your product’s benefits to emphasizing the potential for a wasted opportunity:

- “Don’t miss this chance…”

- “Here’s what you’ll miss out on…”

In any case, if your product or service is genuinely unique, be sure to emphasize its unique qualities to increase the perception of its scarcity.

MIND LOOM (Buyology by Martin Lindstrom)

The possibility of missing out (FOMO-Fear of Missing Out) entices people to act with urgency vs. gaining.

  • Losing time is one thing Uber has used to their advantage. People spend more money some times on Uber only because of knowing when they will be picked up, as time is becoming more scarce to everyone.

Implement these principles along with the ideas loomed in from other great books and you’ll be sure to see an increase in success. It’s fact, because your prospects don’t have a choice; it’s in their genes!

Remember, Mind Looms are here as a supplement to reading the book and not a replacement.

Acquire Knowledge. Take Action. Develop Wisdom. Repeat.

Acquire Knowledge. Take Action. Develop Wisdom. Repeat.