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The Principles of Influence

How does one get people to think and behave a little differently? There are subtle ways to press an agenda without turning everyone off. In the area of persuasion, Robert Cialdini, professor emeritus at Arizona State University, may well be the expert to note. His six principles have been used in business schools as well as in boardrooms. The first principle is reciprocity, where one gives and gets back—the feeling that something is owed can be powerful. The second, commitment and consistency is about having consistency in beliefs and behaviors. Another principle is social proof, when people tend to make choices that appear popular. The next fundamental covers authority, as having a credible expert is useful. Meanwhile, likability is when a person is regarded as a trusted friend. And finally, scarcity is important because people fear that an item may be in short supply.

How to Convince Others

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While persuasion is a science, it’s also an art. If a person pushes too hard, he will risk being aggressive. If he nudges too lightly, he will get nowhere. If she grinds on too loudly, she's just a jerk. Many things can influence the decisions of others. For example, people pay attention when an attractive salesperson is talking. Plus, people perk up if that individual uses powerful words such as progress, liberty, and value. Considering what other people want can also help, as this will inform one to devise a plan that benefits all. A thoughtful, persuasive argument can lead to getting what is wanted.

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