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Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert B. Cialdini

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What you are doing before an activity influences how you approach that particular activity. All mental activity arises as patterns of associations within a vast and intricate neural network, and that influence attempts will be successful only to the extent that the associations they trigger are favourable to change.  

Fascinating book that starts interesting facts such as when researchers have found that the amount of money people said they’d be willing to spend on dinner went up when the restaurant was named Studio 97, as opposed to Studio 17.

Participants in a study of work performance predicted their effort and output would be better
when the study happened to be label the experiment as twenty-seven versus a lower number such as nine.  Even observers’ estimates of an athlete’s performance increased if he wore a high (versus low)
number on his jersey.

If college students are asked to draw a set of long lines on a sheet of paper, then estimating the length of the Mississippi River they will estimate it higher than students who had just drawn a set of short lines.

Good presuasive practices create windows of opportunity that are far from propped open permanently.

Rules of association
There is a geography of influence. Just as words and images can prompt certain associations favourable to change, so can places. Thus, it becomes possible to send ourselves in desired directions by locating to physical and psychological environments that prefit with cues associated with our relevant goals.  An influencers can potentially achieve their goals by shifting others to environments with supportive cues.

Attention should be channelled to one or another of the universal principles of influence: reciprocity,
liking, authority, social proof, scarcity, and consistency. (Hyperlink to other video)
This book adds a seventh principle: unity.


There is a certain type of unity which is of identity.  This can be characterized by a ‘we relationship’ and
that, if pre-suasively raised to consciousness, leads to more acceptance, cooperation, liking, help, trust, and, consequently, assent. Build ‘We relationships’: by presenting cues of genetic commonality
associated with family and place.

A communicator pre-suades by focusing recipients initially on concepts that are aligned, associatively, with the information yet to be delivered.  Therefore those using a pre-suasive approach must decide what to present immediately before their message.

If somebody asks you whether you were unhappy in, your natural tendency to hunt for
confirmations rather than for disconfirmations of the possibility.  Palm reading is an example that you give a vague statement like you are diligent or lazy and then the person selectively thinks about times they have displayed that trait, therefore may completely agree with something they would not usually describe themselves as.  This can be called a “positive test strategy” it comes down to this: in deciding whether a possibility is correct, people typically look for hits rather than misses; for confirmations of the idea rather than for disconfirmations. This is because it is easier to register the presence of something than its absence.

Previously it was thought that if you wish to change another’s behaviour, you must first change some existing feature of that person so that it fits with the behaviour.  Consider instead asking if the he or she has been willing to look at new possibilities.

Mentions survey in which participants on the street were asked to engage with a study in relation to trying a new product.  If the potential participants were first asked do you consider yourself helpful or adventurous (as opposed to nothing) there was a higher chance they would participate in the study.

Research on cognitive functioning shows us: when attention is paid to something, the price is attention lost to something else. Indeed, because the human mind appears able to hold only one thing in conscious awareness at a time, the toll is a momentary loss of focused attention to everything else.
This leads us to the consider that anything that draws focused attention to itself can lead observers to overestimate its importance.

The renowned Milton Erickson hypnotist and guru of NLP took advantage of this fact.  To emphasise the importance of particular points at times he spoke very softly.  Therefore patients had to lean forward, into the information providing their focused attention and intense interest.

Techniques designed merely to channel temporary attention can be particularly effective as pre-suasive devices.  In part this is what makes banner ads so effective due to lack of direct notice.

Research has demonstrated that the more consideration people give to something, the more extreme and polarized their opinions of it become. Therefore attention-capturing tactics alone are unlikely to be the answer to would-be persuaders.

Embedding reporters with US soldiers in the Iraq war was a tactical part by the US government.  This led to the predominant media message to the public being you should be paying attention to the conduct of the war, not the wisdom of it.

The tendency to presume that what is focal is causal holds sway too deeply, too automatically, and over too many types of human judgment.

Mentions a study in which had observers who were asked to judge who had more influence in the discussion, based on tone, content, and direction (scripted conversation, some could see both faces, one only one face). The outcomes were always the same: whoever’s face was more visible was judged to be more influential.

A camera angle aimed at a suspect during an interrogation leads observers of the recording to assign the suspect greater responsibility for a confession (and greater guilt), whatever the profession
of the watchers were ordinary citizens, law enforcement personnel, or criminal court judges. The bias
disappeared when the recording showed the interrogation and confession from the side, so that the suspect and questioner were equally focal. In fact, it was possible to reverse the bias by showing observers a recording of the identical interaction with the camera trained over the suspect’s shoulder onto the interrogator’s face; then, compared with the side-view judgments, the interrogator was perceived to have coerced the confession. Manifestly here, what’s focal seems causal.

Therefore, if being interviewed by police, find the camera in the room, which will usually be above and behind the police officer. Second, move your chair. Position yourself so that the recording of the session will depict your face and your questioner’s face equally. 

Mentions an experiment in which a young woman requests assistance from men stating that her phone has been taken and she needs help. Attractiveness alone was not enough, to obtain help. The men had
to be exposed to a sexually linked concept, Valentine’s Day, before were more likely to act. An opener was needed that rendered them receptive to her plea prior to ever encountering it. A different woman had asked the men directions a few minutes before to either Main Street or Valentines Street those asked for Valentines Street were more likely to help.

An experiment assessed how long straight males and females spent looking at photos. A significant number spent more time gazing at photos of members of the opposite sex who were especially attractive, this tendency appeared only if the gazers were in the market for a romantic or sexual relationship. Individuals who weren’t looking for a new partner didn’t spend any more time locked on to the photos of good-looking possibilities than average-looking ones.

In any situation, people are dramatically more likely to pay attention to and be influenced by stimuli that fit the goal they have for that situation.  This would fit with the above experiment.  However, two months after the survey, the participants were recontacted and asked if their relationships had remained intact or had ended. The best indicator of a breakup was not how much love they felt for their partner two months ago, how satisfied they stated they were or even how long they had wanted the relationship to last. The best predictor was how much they were regularly aware of the attractive members of the opposite sex hotties who were around them back then.


Therefore, in our relationships, then, we might want to be sensitive to any sustained upswing in our partner’s (or our own) attentiveness to attractive alternatives, as it might well offer an early signal of a partnership in peril.

It is well known that Ivan Pavlov got the dogs to salivate to the sound of a bell which had no business extracting that reaction. To accomplish the trick, he just rang the bell immediately prior to introducing food to them on repeated occasions. Before long, the dogs were drooling at the sound of the bell, even in the absence of any food.

What people often don’t know is that when visitors were invited to his institute to observe a demonstration, it usually failed. The same happened when one of his assistants would condition a dog in one of the institute’s experimental rooms and would then ask Pavlov to view the results.

It was put forward that the dogs wouldn’t respond due to the ‘investigatory reflex’. In order to survive, any animal needs to be acutely aware of immediate changes to its environment, investigating and evaluating these differences for the dangers or opportunities they might present. This reflex is very forceful so it supersedes all other operations.

Waiters can remember who ordered what but soon after food has been provided forget this information.  This is known as the Zeigarnik effect, unfinished tasks are the more memorable, hoarding attention so they can be performed and dispatched successfully.

With a task that we feel committed to performing, we will remember all sorts of elements of it better if we have not yet had the chance to finish, because our attention will remain drawn to it. Second, if we are engaged in such a task and are interrupted or pulled away, we’ll feel a discomforting, gnawing desire to get back to it. That desire—which also pushes us to return to incomplete narratives, unresolved problems, unanswered questions, and unachieved goals—reflects a craving for cognitive closure.

Associations can be called the building blocks of thought.

You may have heard to the statement “Caution and measure will win you riches”, this is more true when changed to “Caution and measure win you treasure.” The mini-lesson for persuasive success is: to make it climb, make it rhyme.


Within the domain of general attraction, observers have a greater liking for those whose facial features are easy to recognize and whose names are easy to pronounce. Tellingly, when people can process something with cognitive ease, they experience increased neuronal activity in the muscles of their face that produce a smile. On the flip side, if it’s difficult to process something, observers tend to dislike that experience and, accordingly, that thing.

Be aware of self-influence – lying in low-level wait within each of us are units of experience that can be given sudden standing and force if we just divert our attention to them.  Medical student syndrome, common, 70 percent to 80 percent of all medical students are afflicted by this disorder, in which they experience the symptoms of whatever disease they happen to be learning about at the time and become convinced that they have contracted it. The mere knowledge of the location of the appendix transforms the most harmless sensations in that region into symptoms of serious menace.

Elderly at times are happier than others, perhaps this is because they have decided to prioritize emotional contentment as a main life goal and, therefore, to turn their attentions systematically toward the positive.

Tips to increase personal happiness often require nothing more than a pre-suasive refocusing of attention
1. Count your blessings and gratitudes at the start of every day, and then give yourself concentrated time with them by writing them down.

2. Cultivate optimism by choosing beforehand to look on the bright side of situations, events, and future possibilities.
3. Negate the negative by deliberately limiting time spent dwelling on problems or on unhealthy comparisons with others

Human societies, even ancient ones, seem to have discovered group bonding that involved coordinated responses. For example an experiment had people who tapped on a table with someone else then were assessed if they would stay and help that person.  Afterwards only 18% of the participants who did not initially tap the table in synchrony with their partners chose to stay and help, versus 49% who tapped the table in synchrony.

Recipients with non-rational, hedonistic goals should be matched with messages containing non-rational elements such as musical accompaniment, whereas those with rational, pragmatic goals should be matched with messages containing rational elements such as facts.

French study in which the (initially sceptical) researchers had a man approach young women and ask for their phone numbers, he was either carrying a guitar case, a sports bag, or empty handed. When carrying a guitar there was a higher chance of a “Oui”, phone numbers more than doubled. Speculates this is because young people associate love and music.

Experiment two people asking questions of each other for 45 minutes, in this process they developed great rapport. The items gradually escalate in personal disclosure. Thus, when responding, participants increasingly open themselves up to one another in a trusting way representative of tightly bonded pairs. Second, participants do so by acting together—that is, in a coordinated, back-and-forth fashion, making the interaction inherently and continuously
synchronous.


Caution to any leader responsible for shaping the ethical climate of an organization, it is as follows: those who cheat for you will cheat against you. If you encourage the first form of deceit, you will get the second, which will cost you dearly in the bargain.

Commitments to reducing missed medical appointments.  A standard practice designed to reduce do not attend appointments involves calling patients the day before to remind them of the appointment. Such efforts reduced failures to appear by 3.5 percent. The receptionist writes down the time and date of the next appointment on a card and gives it to patients. If, instead, the patients are asked to fill in the
card, that active step gets them more committed to keeping the appointment. When this costless procedure was tried in a study in Britain, the subsequent no-show rate dropped by 18 percent.

Physicians are hardest to influence, so let’s summarise a couple of studies that attempt to influence physicians.

“Hand hygiene protects you from catching diseases.” To channel attention to the patient-centred concern, they placed signs over a different set of dispensers that read “Hand hygiene protects patients from catching diseases.” Despite only a single word of difference, the effect of the two types of signs was dramatically one-sided. The sign that reminded the doctors to protect themselves had no effect on soap and gel use. But the one reminding them to protect their patients increased usage by 45 percent.

Suggests that physicians deep down appear to be (1) other oriented individuals, strongly motivated to enhance the well-being of their patients and (2) not of the sort we’d have to worry would ever serve their own interests at their patients’ expense.

So therefore, it is worth thinking what might cause doctors to become likely to accepting industry sponsored favours. One sample of the physicians was simply asked in an online survey whether and to what extent taking gifts and payments from industry representatives was acceptable to them. In the researchers’ analysis, only about one-fifth found the practice acceptable. But when a second sample was asked the same question, preceded by items inquiring into how much they had sacrificed personally and financially to become doctors, nearly half (47.5 percent) thought gift taking acceptable.

Finally, when a third sample was both reminded in the same way of their prior sacrifices and asked whether the resources they’d previously expended justified taking gifts, a clear majority (60.3 percent) came to see the practice as acceptable.

Therefore, focusing physicians pre-suasively on the large inputs they had supplied to the health
care system made them much more willing to take large returns from it. Also it is likely that reciprocity based rationale is causing the majority to embrace gift taking.

In large measure, who we are with respect to any choice is where we are, attentionally, in the moment before the choice. We can be channelled to that moment by choice-relevant cues we haphazardly encounter in our daily settings or, of greater concern, by the cues a knowing communicator has tactically placed there. Which may have a lasting effect, by the cues we have stored to send us consistently in desired directions.

Elastic preferences serve to illustrate how top-of-mind factors operate on all of us. When people can’t deliberate carefully, can’t concentrate fully, they are much more likely to respond automatically to whatever decision-making cues are present in the situation.

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