Six Principles of Influence, Robert Cialdini (1984)

The Six Principles of Influence, also known as the Six Principles of Persuasion, were developed by Robert Cialdini, a social psychologist and professor emeritus of psychology and marketing. Cialdini introduced these principles in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” first published in 1984. The principles describe fundamental psychological factors that influence people’s decision-making and behavior.

Here are the Six Principles of Influence:

  • Reciprocity: This principle is based on the concept of mutual exchange. People feel obligated to return favors, gifts, or acts of kindness they have received. Reciprocity can be harnessed by offering something of value to others, which increases the likelihood of them complying with a request or taking a desired action.
  • Scarcity: The principle of scarcity suggests that people value things more when they are perceived as limited or scarce. When something is seen as rare, exclusive, or in high demand, it becomes more desirable. Creating a sense of scarcity or highlighting the uniqueness of a product or opportunity can influence people to take action.
  • Authority: This principle revolves around the idea that people tend to follow the lead of credible and knowledgeable authorities. Individuals are more likely to comply with requests or trust information when it comes from perceived experts or figures of authority. Demonstrating expertise, credentials, or endorsements can enhance persuasive impact.
  • Consistency: Consistency refers to the human desire to align actions and behaviors with previous commitments or beliefs. Once people make a choice or take a public stance, they strive to remain consistent with that choice in order to maintain their self-image. By obtaining initial small commitments or seeking voluntary, public endorsements, it becomes easier to gain larger commitments or behavioral changes later on.
  • Liking: People are more receptive to those they like and find attractive, similar to themselves, or who provide compliments and flattery. Building rapport, establishing common ground, and appealing to personal connections or similarities can enhance persuasiveness. Building positive relationships and likeability can increase the likelihood of influencing others.
  • Consensus (Social Proof): The principle of consensus suggests that people look to the actions and behaviors of others to guide their own decisions and behaviors. When uncertain, individuals often assume that the majority or social proof reflects the correct course of action. Highlighting testimonials, reviews, or statistics that demonstrate widespread adoption or endorsement can influence people’s choices and actions.

These Six Principles of Influence provide a framework for understanding the psychological factors that play a role in persuasion and can be employed in various contexts, including marketing, sales, negotiations, and interpersonal communication. By understanding and effectively applying these principles, individuals and organizations can enhance their ability to influence others and achieve desired outcomes.