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Review of Pre-Suasion: A revolutionary way to influence and persuade by Robert Cialdini

In Pre-suasion, Robert Cialdini looks at how the psychology of influence and behaviour change starts long before the actual moment of change or conversion or sales. Or as Sun Tzu wrote, “Every battle is won before it is fought”.

He talks about different psychological principles, building on his earlier book Influence. Cialdini covers the primacy of associations in the mind, and the way in which communication (especially speech) directs people’s attention to a specific “sector of reality” making them focus on one thing rather than another thing.

His main and final focus is on the social aspects of influence, and how creating change often depends on shared personal relationships which create an environment where persuasion can work.

He names his seventh principle of persuasion “Unity”, adding to the six principles he lays out in Influence. Unity relates to shared identity and the categories that people use to define themselves and their groups, including race, ethnicity, nationality, family, religion and political affiliation. He talks about unity in two specific ways, being together and acting together (where shared sensory experiences such as music and dance create powerful effects on behaviour).

This is a good read for anyone interested in behaviour change, but I would recommend reading Influence before you read Pre-suasion (and it is the better read too). As Cialdini says at the end of the book, who we are is where we are (attentionally) in the moment before we make a decision.

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