Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

In 1984, social psychologist Robert Cialdini published Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. He did his research by studying car salesmen, Hari Krishnas, telemarketers, and other master persuaders, cataloguing the tricks of their trade and distilling the underlying psychological principles. The result was a field guide on how to apply -- or resist -- the bait-and-switch, the lowball, the reciprocity effect, and the other tools of the persuasive class. An instant classic, the book is still taught in Psych 101 courses everywhere. Now, in Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, Cialdini -- along with his research collaborators Noah J. Goldstein and Steve J. Martin -- revisits the same terrain, bringing to bear the latest advances in the science of mind. As it turns out, the laws of influence don?t work the way we think. Take social proof -- the fact that when we see other people doing something, we want to do it, too. It?s why product testimonials work so well. But it also explains why some marketing campaigns backfire: One anti-littering campaign bears the slogan, ?This year Americans will produce more litter and pollution than ever before.? By communicating that littering is common, these ads actually make the problem worse. For the same reason, a sign warning that a national park was threatened because so many people were removing pieces of petrified wood resulted in a tripling of the rate at which people stole. Presented in short, engaging chapters, each illustrating one principle of persuasion, the book is filled with similarly jaw-dropping insights. It also provides concrete suggestions on how to harness this wisdom in real-life situations. Like Influence before it, Yes! will no doubt prove indispensable for anyone curious about the art of persuasion.

July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

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