Review of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (New and Expanded) by Robert Cialdini

Influence has been a standard read for almost 40 years and the publication of a new and expanded version gave me a great opportunity to read it again. The revised version has almost doubled the length of the original with new and recent examples, reader reports from the field, and the addition of the new principle of unity first introduced in the book Pre-Suasion (reviewed here).

The original six principles of reciprocity, liking, social proof, authority, scarcity, and commitment/consistency remain equally important even in the digital age as proved by one of the experiments cited in the book which used A/B tests to measure the impact of different messaging around specific features and products. An analysis of the 6,700 tests showed that scarcity (highlighting items low in stock) and social proof (describing the most popular and trending items) had the biggest impact on buyer behaviour.

The book is full of practical advice on becoming more influential, including specific language and wording to create an impact. For example, to invoke reciprocity, if someone thanks you for a kind act don’t just say “You’re welcome” or “I would have done it for anybody”. Instead the best response is, “If the positions were reversed, I know you would do the same for me”.

This is a fantastic read for anyone, whether they are involved in the social sciences or not. It is clear and easy to read and with a wealth of insights into human behaviour. Although the examples are America-centric, the range of case studies and practical tips will help everyone to be more influential and be more aware of how others are influencing them.


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