Book review of “Influence: the psychology of persuasion” by Robert Cialdini

Best quotes

“Although there are thousands of different tactics that compliance practitioners employ to produce yes, the majority fall within six basic categories. Each of these categories is governed by a fundamental psychological principle that directs human behavior and, in so doing, gives the tactics their power.”

“Just as the “cheep-cheep” sound of turkey chicks triggered an automatic mothering response from maternal turkeys—even when it emanated from a stuffed polecat—so, too, did the word “because” trigger an automatic compliance response from Langer’s subjects, even when they were given no subsequent reason to comply. Click, whirr!”


Ever wondered why people aren’t convinced by your logic? This will explain why and how people actually do get convinced.

This is the million-seller persuasion classic, first published in 1984 that is probably more widely referenced than any other book in the field.

“Influence” explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these findings to others and your own life.

How it helped me

As a very logical person, I was always mystified as to exactly how the fuck people get tricked into doing all manner of dumb shit. I was also mystified as to how people I was trying to persuade didn’t seem to give a fig for the logic I presented. They didn’t debate the logic was correct, they just didn’t seem to give a flying fuck, and as such, I sucked at persuasion, which as someone moving into the field of marketing, is not something you especially want to suck at.

This book set me straight on how and why people are influenced and in reading through the examples I began to exercise a great many of these techniques in my own life. Now whenever I go to sell my boss on a certain approach to take, or whenever I go to a client who has an interest in something we can offer, or even in my personal relationships, I often apply one or more of the principles in this book. Before I’d just give the most logical reasoning I could, now I back it with stuff that actually works.

I look back on the way I was, at how laughably ineffective I was in my dealings and just cringe. This book was extremely helpful for me.


Cialdini is a weird one, he sort of went “undercover” in the persuasion industry to see how it all works, and he uses this experience to provide examples for the principles which have been scientifically researched and verified. He also deconstructs the principles into multiple parts to help us understand them.

The main principles explored are:

– reciprocation

– consistency

– social proof

– liking

– authority

– scarcity

He’ll tell you what they are, why they work, their different components and lots of examples of them in action.

Where in your journey this fits

So if you still don’t know what you’re doing with your life, this ain’t going to help you, but if you have figured out your chief goal in life and come up with a plan for it and if you’re having trouble winning people to your way of thinking, either in personal or business relationships, now is a pretty good time to read this book. There are far more specific books on persuasion which you can read, like “How to win friends and influence people”, but I suggest you read “Influence” or perhaps watch “Straight Line Persuasion” first as they provide good overviews.

Style of the book

The book takes this stance that using these often very sneaky persuasion techniques is morally wrong, and the only reason to read this book is to defend yourself against these devious persuaders. I think this is bullshit, and that what Jordan Belfort says is much more useful, that persuasion is like fire, the way it’s used can be good or bad, but it in itself is just a tool and is totally neutral, but the impact is just a little bit of moral mothering here and there.

Outside of this, the rest of the book tells you the science behind the persuasion in a simple way with lots of interesting anecdotes. It’s not quite a how-to manual for persuasion, but it’s close, as by the end you’ll be figuring out yourself how to apply the principles. A lot of books aren’t scientific enough and other books are so scientific that to read them without crying blood is difficult, this book strikes the balance deftly.

Criticism of the book

That it’s not a how-to book i guess would be my only criticism, although it’s obviously not intended to be I might have liked him to just ditch the stupid pretense that we’re reading this to defend against salespeople and instead provide specific exercises in how we can apply these principles, since they are such excellent principles.

Key chapters

The opening chapter about how it all works and is great to open your mind for how persuasion works.

The chapter on social proof is excellent and is very obviously applicable across different aspects of your life.

Similar texts

Straight-line Persuasion by Jordan Belfort, the real wolf of wall street. (very expensive video course on persuasion which is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen)

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It basically teaches the “liking” principle in great depth by teaching you how to charm people.

The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy. The best structure for a how-to book I’ve ever seen, this book will ask you many very important questions and is very practical.

SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham. Teaches a method through which to educate people on the value of a certain course of action in a way that will have them on board

Links to learn more



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