Persuasion is everywhere. It plays a vital role in the political, religious, educational and social relations of everyday life. Social influence through persuasion is also the most widespread and common means of social control available to governments and individuals. To the extent that we seek to persuade others (and where we are also the target of persuasion), we have learned, how persuasion works. The first attempts to change the opinion of others are as old as human language. For centuries, persuasion, rhetoric and the manipulation of opinions have aroused the interest of politicians, educators, writers and philosophers. In contrast, the study of persuasion by social psychology is relatively recent. Social psychology is itself a very young discipline. It was formed as a discipline during the Second World War, and persuasion became one of the favourite themes from the start. Today, work on persuasion is an important part of research in social psychology and intersects with other major areas such as influence processes, attitudes and attitude changes, convergence and deviance, acceptance of social norms, communication and propaganda.
When we make a decision, it would be nice to say that all available information is taken into consideration and that we make a rational decision.
But the reality is often different …
Indeed, with the way of life we lead, we are increasingly overloaded with information, and we need more than ever shortcuts and rules that guide us and help us make our decisions.
Studies by Robert Cialdini have shown that there are six universal shortcuts that guide the behavior of humans, including:
These principles make it possible to influence people in an ethical manner, avoiding all forms of manipulation.
The first principle of influence is reciprocity. People feel obliged to give something back in form, either of gift, service or in the way of acting if they received something first. For example, if a friend invites you to a party, you will feel compelled to invite them to a party that you will organize later. Similarly, if a colleague does you a favor, you will owe him a favor and it is a sequence set up by the company.
It is a sense of obligation to say “yes” to someone who has done you a favor.
The best example of reciprocity comes from numerous studies conducted in restaurants …
So, the next time you go to the restaurant, it is very likely that the waiter or waitress will give you a present and probably at the same time or they will give you your note for dinner.
The question is: does having a mint candy influence you on the amount of tip you leave?
Most people answer NO … but this mint candy can make a surprising difference.
According to an experiment, when you give a single mint candy after the meal, the tip percentage left by patrons increased by 3%, but, if at the end of a meal, we give two candy mint, tip percentage increases by 14%. On top of that; if the waiter gives you a mint candy and before moving away from the table, he says to the customers ‘only for you who are good customers’, the amount of the tip will explode! You can expect up to 23% increase in tips and only because a gift has been given in a personal manner.
Thus, for reciprocity to work in your favour remember to give first and make sure its personalised and unexpected.
The second universal principle is the Scarcity
This principle can be defined as one where people want more of those things that are not available in copious quantities. In 2003, British Airways announced that it was no longer flying in Concorde London – USA because it was no longer profitable, the sale for its same flights surged. Nothing had changed compared to the Concorde before, it did not fly faster and the service was always the same, and the ticket had not dropped. But it had simply become a resource that was going to be scarce and so the result was that people wanted more.
Effectively convincing others to use the principle of scarcity Lack, the science is clear, it’s not always easy to tell people the benefits they will have if they opt for your product and service but you will also have to tell them what is unique in what you propose and what they risk losing if they do not consider your proposal. This principle is observed during auctions, or during sales with the rush to have the precious garment, the desire for something scarce influences our behaviours in some very strange ways.
The third universal principle is that of ‘authority’. The idea is that people will follow informed and credible experts. Physiotherapists, for example, can convince their patients to submit to recommended exercise programs by displaying their degrees on the wall of their surgeries.
People are more likely to make the exact change for a parking meter if this request was made by someone wearing a uniform rather than a civilian. What studies tell us is that it is important to signal to others your authority, competence and credibility before trying to influence them.
A group of real estate agency could increase some evaluation of their properties as well as the contracts they had by setting up a telephone service – customer service that responds to complaints and any other information that customers would like to have by calling on his expertise. Instead of just putting them in touch with a salesperson, they valued these and their experience. Thus, if a customer is interested in a rental, he will offer the services of “Sandra” who has more than fifteen years of experience and who deals with his region, and if a customer wishes to have information on sales of properties, they will put him in touch with “Peter” the sales manager who has more than twenty years of experiences in this field.
This valuation of staff (even unverifiable) has a direct and positive impact on the number of appointments and contracts signed, 20% and 15% increase respectively! This slight change is both an ethical method and does not cost anything …
The next principle is ‘consistency’, which means that people
like to stay consistent in the things they say or do. Consistency starts from
the moment you make a commitment or a decision or position. The researchers
found, not surprisingly, in a well-known study that few people would agree to
have a “drive cautiously” sign to support a road safety campaign in
their neighbourhood. However, in a similar neighbourhood, almost four times
more homeowners have agreed to have this campaign ‘drive carefully’ poster on a
sign. WHY? Just because ten days ago residents of this neighbourhood agreed to
place a map on the front window of their homes that shows they support the
campaign of ‘driving cautiously’, and this little map was the initial
commitment made by its inhabitants who take us to its 400% increases on a
larger scale but always in a consistent way. So, when one seeks to influence
when using the principle of coherence, the influence sensor seeks
‘volunteering, energy and public commitment’ … The most powerful being to
have a written commitment. for example, a recent study tells us how to reduce
appointment cancellations by 18% simply by asking the patient himself to fill
in his form for the date and time of the appointment instead of the secretary
or a member of staff who do it for him.
The fifth principle, that of affection, is since people prefer to say yes to the people they like. But what makes one person like another? Persuasion experiments show us that there are three very important factors:
– we like people who look like us,
– we like people who compliments us,
– we like people who have the same goals as us and who cooperate.
Nowadays, most of the interactions we have are online and influence can also apply to online sales. For example, on Amazon you have product suggestions, exclusive offers, free shipping, which sends you by email products that interest you …
Another example is in everyday life with negotiations between two groups of MBA students from two different business schools.
One of the groups is told that time is money and that you should stay focused on business.
In this same group, 55% of them have reached agreement
In a second group, they were told that before starting any negotiations, it was necessary above all to exchange information, to find similarities with each other and it is only from then on, that the negotiations could begin. In this “socialized” group, nearly 90% have reached an agreement, which represents 80% more success.
So, to honor this principle of liking – one must first look for similarities with the other and give a real compliment.
The last principle is that of the consensus that is defined especially when people will look, observe the attitude of others to determine their actions and their behaviors. In most bathrooms in hotels, you will find words that encourage customers to reuse towels or sheets. But for what purpose? The reason they do this is that they want to draw the attention of their guests to the benefits that reuse can have on protecting our environment. And it turns out that it is an effective strategy that brings us to an ecological behavior of nearly 35%. But there is an even more effective way to encourage people to reuse towels. The purpose is to mention on cards and messages in the bathroom and say that more than 75% of our guests reuse their towels, thank you for doing the same. In this case the proportion of reuse is then up 26%. Simply by showing them the normal behavior of “others”. Science shows us that instead of relying solely on our abilities to convince others, we can take as an example what the crowd does …
So, we have seen the six principles of persuasion that have been scientifically proven, that lead us to small practical changes that often cost nothing, but that greatly increase our ability to convince others ethically.
The foot in the door is a compliance technique described by social psychologists. It consists of making an inexpensive request that will likely be accepted, followed by a more expensive request. This second request will be more likely to be accepted if it has been preceded by the acceptance of the first, which creates a sort of landing and a phenomenon of commitment.
The phenomenon was highlighted in 1966 by Freedman and Fraser. They contacted more than a hundred people over the phone to ask if they agreed to the researchers coming home to take inventory of their possessions. Some of them had been contacted three days earlier by the same person to answer a questionnaire about the soap they used. Those who answered the questionnaire (small request) were much more likely to accept the inventory (large demand) than those who were not contacted.
In social psychology, the door in the face or door to the nose is an inverse variant of the persuasion technique foot in the door. It is to precede a request of expensive behavior by a request much more expensive, basically an over the top request.
Previously known in the field of sales and prospecting, this technique was officially unveiled in 1975 during an experiment in which Robert Cialdini and his collaborators (Vincent, Lewis, Catalan, Wheeler and Darby, 1975) asked students to sponsor a juvenile detention centre for two hours a week for two years. Once this very expensive request was refused, the authors then proposed to the students previously solicited, a single two hours outing during which they would sponsor one of the boys of the detention centre. To precede this last request, the expensive solicitation, made it possible to triple the number of acceptances of sponsorship for the single exit, compared to a control group of students to whom only this single exit was proposed. The speaker asks someone to lend him his car for a week. He has a logical refusal, which he expected because he never really wanted to borrow the car for a week. He then makes a cheaper request, lend him his car for a day. By contrast effect, perceived concession (he sacrificed himself in relation to his initial request) and guilt in the person to handle (I could not satisfy his request and therefore wants to buy me) this technique greatly increases the chances of acceptance of said person. The feeling of guilt works all the better that the person to handle feels close to the speaker and therefore does not want to lose his friendship. Following the first of these experiments, Cialdini was able to show:
· that the first request must necessarily be much more expensive than the second;
· that the same person must proceed with the two requests, so that the technique is effective.
In the case where these conditions are not respected, the probability of acceptance of the least expensive request is not significantly higher than when it is presented alone.