Robert Cialdini's Principles of Persuasion

Robert CialdiniRobert Cialdini
I’ve been interested in social psychology since I took AP Psychology in high school, but I was only able to take one psych class in college. So, I’m really excited that I get to learn about behavioral science as part of my marketing internship! I watched a series of videos (see link below) in which Professor Cialdini explains his Principles of Persuasion (reciprocity, scarcity, authority, commitment/consistency, consensus, and liking). I will incorporate these principles into the marketing materials I produce, including the CoolCalifornia Challenge Newsletter, in which our ultimate goal is to get Californians to behave more sustainably! Here is a brief explanation of each principle:

1. Reciprocity: you must not take without giving in return. Strategy: give something first before you ask for something in return.
a. Ask for something big, get declined, retreat and ask for something smaller

2. Scarcity: people tend to want more of what there is less of
a. Also works with exclusive information

3. Authority: knowledge and trustworthiness make you an effective communicator
a. First, mention a weakness in your case (to establish yourself as knowledgeable of pros and cons, and to establish your honesty). Then give your strongest argument.

4. Commitment/Consistency: people prefer to be consistent within their own actions and beliefs. They don’t want to be seen as inconsistent by others around them
a. Get them to take a small stand in the direction of where you want them to go, and they will be more likely to comply later with related requests.
b. Lasting commitments are active, public, and uncoerced (owned)
i. Ask them to write down what they have committed to, or make it public

5. Consensus: people decide what is appropriate for themselves in a situation by looking at what others just like them have done.
a. We follow the lead of similar others and large groups of others

6. Liking: we prefer to say yes to those we know and like
a. We like those who are similar to us, give us complements, and cooperate with us toward common goals

For more information about the Principles of Persuasion (including examples of each principle in action), check out Professor Cialdini’s lecture on YouTube.

Photo of Robert Cialdini from