Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Author:Robert B. Cialdini [Cialdini, Robert B.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Psychology, Compliance, Negotiating, Persuasion (Psychology), Consumer Behavior, Influence (Psychology), Business & Economics
ISBN: 9789949409556
Publisher: Pegasus
Published: 1984-01-01T23:00:00+00:00

From "ordinary applause" to "wild enthusiasm," claqueurs offered their services in an audaciously public fashion—in this case, in a newspaper read by many of the audience members they fully expected to influence. Claque, whirr.

What Sauton and Porcher realized about the mechanical way that we abide by the principle of social proof is understood as well by a variety of today's exploiters. They see no need to hide the manufactured nature of the social evidence they provide—witness the amateurish quality of the average TV laugh track. They seem almost smug in the recognition of our predicament: Either we must allow them to fool us or we must abandon the precious automatic pilots that make us so vulnerable to their tricks. But in their certainty that they have us trapped, such exploiters have made a crucial mistake. The laxity with which they construct phony social evidence gives us a way to fight back.

Because automatic pilots can be engaged and disengaged at will, we can cruise along trusting in the course steered by the principle of social proof until we recognize that a piece of inaccurate data is being used. Then we can take the controls, make the necessary correction for the misinformation, and reset the automatic pilot. The transparency of the rigged social proof we get these days provides us with exactly the cue we need for knowing when to perform this simple maneuver. With no more cost than a bit of vigilance for plainly counterfeit social evidence, then, we can protect ourselves nicely.

Let's take an example. A bit earlier, we noted the proliferation of av-erage-person-on-the-street ads, in which a number of ordinary people speak glowingly of a product, often without knowing that their words are being recorded. As would be expected according to the principle of social proof, these testimonials from "average people like you and me" make for quite effective advertising campaigns. They have always included one relatively subtle kind of distortion: We hear only from those who like the product; as a result, we get an understandably biased picture of the amount of social support for it. More recently, though, a cruder and more unethical sort of falsification has been introduced. Commercial producers often don't bother to get genuine testimonials. They merely hire actors to play the roles of average people testifying in an unrehearsed fashion to an interviewer. It is amazing how baldfaced these "unrehearsed interview" commercials can be. The situations are obviously staged, the participants are clearly actors, and the dialogue is unmistakably prewritten.


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