Robert Cialdini, Influence

This ground-breaking work by social psychology researcher Robert Cialdini combines insights from behavioral psychology and professional influencers such as advertisers to outline, as he puts it, “the weapons of influence”. The key to understanding influence as a weapon, he says, is to realize that it triggers automatic responses in us – ones we can only disrupt by breaking social codes with great conscious effort.

So what are these “weapons”?

    Reciprocity
    Commitment and Consistency
    Liking
    Social Proof
    Authority
    Scarcity

The book goes on to illustrate each principle with examples, all backed by empirical data. Examples abound, but the point remains: We still fall for them. End-of-season discounts, viral videos, friendly waiters who recommend the second-most expensive items on the menu, motor cycle designers who cater to bikers’ girlfriends. The science of influence is becoming more sophisticated with the ability to track us on the internet, even to the point of influencing elections: Cambridge Analytica.

Read this book if you want to understand more about how we are influenced on a daily basis; skim it if you simply want the principles with an example or two. Work on biases and heuristics in behavioral psychology covers much the same ground; Cialdini’s work, however, shows us how these triggers are being used regularly in our world to trigger our compliance.