Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Persuasion

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Persuasion

"Please?"

"Please, mom? Please please please?"

"I really want it, can you buy it for me please?"

  • We'll talk about the definition of persuasion, and the principles that Robert Cialdini set forth.
  • We'll go over who is impacted more by persuasion, and why phrasing matters.
  • Why does who is doing the persuading matter?
  • We'll learn about different tactics of persuasion, and review experiments that studied them.

Defining Persuasion

In psychology, persuasion is the ability of others to convince you to change your thoughts or behavior due to varying principles, and through different methods. Persuasion is an intentional action; no one unintentionally persuades someone to do something.

Principles of Persuasion

Psychologist Robert Cialdini gained notoriety through his book, Influence: Science and Practice. In this book, he first outlined what he claimed were the six principles of persuasion. Cialdini has since added a seventh and final principle of persuasion and influence.

Reciprocity

This principle can be stated as: "If I do something for you, then you should do something for me." You are more likely to comply with a request from someone if they have helped you out, paid you, or done something for you in the past.

Consistency/commitment

People like consistency! Persuasion can be more effective if the request being made is consistent with what people have done in the past.

Social proof/consensus

We look to what other people are doing to keep abreast of new information. If you’re walking in the mall and see that a particular store is more crowded than the others, you may think that store offers great products. You are being persuaded through the actions of your peers rather than words.

Liking

People who we like more, those we share similarities with, can persuade us more.

Authority

People will be persuaded more by people in a position of authority. In addition, people will be more influenced by others in uniform (think of who you would choose to listen to more – a scientist in a lab coat, or a scientist in regular clothes).

Scarcity

We are more susceptible to persuasion when we are informed of the scarcity of something. Imagine you’re thinking about booking a plane ticket, and you see that there are only three tickets left at the cheapest price. You’re going to book those tickets! There are only three left!

Unity

The final principle that Robert Cialdini put forth is unity. Similar to liking, unity states that we like belonging to a group, and we will be persuaded to more effectively fit in with that group.

Factors That Affect Persuasion

Let’s use an example; you are trying to persuade your coach to cancel practice on a Friday afternoon. This will help us to understand the factors that impact how psychologically persuaded someone will be.

Persuasion, A photograph of a coach in a black t-shirt with his back to the camera. StudySmarterHow convincing will you be to your coach? pixabay.com.

Who Is Saying It?

Off the bat, it matters who the persuasive person is. Studies have shown that people who are physically and socially engaging and superior will be more successful in their persuasion. In this example, your being socially inferior to your coach is not in your favor. If you were instead trying to persuade your friend to buy you ice cream, you would have a higher chance of success, due to social equality and potentially physical attractiveness.

As much as we don’t want to admit it, physical attractiveness does play a role when it comes to social psychology.

Additionally, the person’s level of knowledge is also a factor. Chances are, you have a significantly lower level of knowledge about your sport than your coach does. Due to that, it is less likely that you would be able to effectively persuade them.

How Are They Phrasing It?

When you’re trying to persuade your coach to cancel Friday practice, it would be in your best interest to explain both sides of the argument. You understand that canceling practice would mean it’s one less opportunity to get better, but you still think the practice should be canceled so that you and your friends can have a real social life on a Friday. You would actually be less persuasive if you did not include the other side of the argument in your pitch.

Phrasing your thoughts in a way that is intended to scare people has also been found to be effective. If you are in a driver’s education class and the teacher is trying to persuade you to wear your seatbelt, they might say, “if you don’t wear your seatbelt, you will die in a car crash”.

Who Is Being Persuaded?

Studies have shown that in public, women have a higher chance of being persuaded and changing their actions than men. However, even though women might be persuaded more in public, studies have also shown that women are less likely to change their thoughts in private.

Techniques of Persuasion

Although you might not even realize it, you use persuasive techniques all the time. Maybe you’re trying to convince your parents to buy you a new phone or your teacher to cancel all your homework. Chances are, you’ve tried different methods to get what you want.

Foot in the Door

"Of course I'll do that; that is no problem at all!"

The foot in the door technique relies on a small request at first. After the person has complied with the small request, the requests keep getting incrementally larger, until the person is agreeing to things they never would have said yes to in the first place.

Researchers asked people in a neighborhood if they would be willing to put a sign on their lawn saying “Drive carefully.” After the sign was out for a couple of weeks, the researchers requested that the participants next have a small billboard on their lawn saying the same thing.

76 percent of participants agreed to have the billboard on their lawn after putting out the lawn sign first, as compared to the control condition, in which the researchers directly asked homeowners to put billboards in their yards. Only 17 percent of participants in the control group complied.

One reason behind the foot in the door is self-perception theory.

Self-perception is when people observe their own actions and then form their attitudes to match that behavior.

In the “Drive carefully” billboard experiment, the participants were interpreting their own actions to understand how they felt about driving. Allowing the lawn sign would indicate they were in favor of safe driving; it would make sense for them to allow the billboard as well, since it was for something they cared about. The interpretation of their behavior leads to an attitude change.

The other main reason why this technique is successful is due to the building up of the requests.

Door in the Face

"How dare you ask me such a question! I would never do that!"

The door in the face technique is the antithesis of the foot in the door method. This technique starts with a large request, one that you know will get denied.

Since the first prodigious request was not allowed, the next request you make will have a higher likelihood of getting accepted. Once you make a large request, any smaller ones that come thereafter will seem more reasonable.

Researchers asked participants in an experiment if they wanted to mentor juvenile delinquents for two hours per week for two years. Unsurprisingly, many of them denied that request. Then came the real request – would they chaperone juvenile delinquents to the zoo for the day?

For this experiment, the control condition was initially asking participants to chaperone delinquents to the zoo. As you can guess, the number of participants who wanted to chaperone after having been asked about mentoring was significantly higher than those just asked about chaperoning.

50 percent of those in the experimental conditions agreed to chaperone, compared to just 17 percent of those in the control condition.

Persuasion Example

Persuasion is used daily in advertisements.

An example of persuasion is the anti-smoking campaign, "A Tip from Former Smokers". It is a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of people who smoke through various commercials and advertisements. It features former smokers whose health has deteriorated to a concerning degree. The people behind the campaign know that people who are more informed on the subject can be more convincing, so who better to persuade people to stop smoking than ex-smokers who either have a trach, show physical deformities from smoking, or are showing pictures of lost loved ones.

They know that it is extremely difficult to stop abruptly, so they encourage people to take the necessary steps to finally be fully free from the addiction. This campaign also relies on persuasive messaging to get the viewers to stop smoking.

Psychology of Persuasion

Through persuasion, we are able to influence others into doing what we want. Persuasion falls perfectly into social psychology for it deals with social interactions, and the influence and pressure we feel from people and situations. Additionally, Robert Cialdini's book helps further our understanding of why people in social situations are more likely to agree to certain things.

Persuasion - Key takeaways

  • Persuasion is the ability of others to intentionally convince you to change your thoughts or behavior.
  • Robert Cialdini proposed seven principles of persuasion in his book, Influence: Science and Practice.
    • Reciprocity: Someone is more persuasive if they have already done a favor for you.
    • Consistency/commitment: Persuasion is more effective if it is consistent with what you normally do.
    • Social proof/consensus: We get information from what other people are doing.
    • Liking: We will be more persuaded by people with whom we share similarities.
    • Authority: People will be more persuaded by people who are in authority.
    • Scarcity: You are more persuaded if there is a scarcity of something.
    • Unity: You are more persuaded if it relates to belonging in a group.
  • Factors that affect persuasion include who is saying it, how are they phrasing it, and who is being persuaded.
  • The foot in the door technique is when someone makes a small request at first, and then builds up to a larger request.
  • The door in the face technique is when someone makes a large request, which is certain to be denied, and then follows up with more reasonable ones, with a higher probability off success.

Frequently Asked Questions about Persuasion

Persuasion is the ability of others to convince you to change your thoughts or actions. 

Factors of persuasion are reciprocity, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, scarcity, and unity. 

Persuasion is not manipulation. Persuasion is trying to influence someone to change their behaviors through verbal coercing, whereas manipulation is trying to get someone to change their actions through force and evil means. 

Persuasive techniques include "foot in the door", and "door in the face". 

Manipulation comes from a negative place. It is trying to change someone’s actions through control or trickery, whereas persuasion is influence through words. 

Final Persuasion Quiz

Question

What is persuasion?

Show answer

Answer

The ability of others to convince you to change your thoughts or behavior 

Show question

Question

What is the principle of reciprocity in persuasion?

Show answer

Answer

"If I do something for you, then you should do something for me"

Show question

Question

What is the principle of consistency/commitment in persuasion?

Show answer

Answer

Is the request being made is consistent with what people have done in the past?

Show question

Question

What is the principle of social proof in persuasion?

Show answer

Answer

Looking to what other people are doing in order to inform ourselves of new information

Show question

Question

What is the principle of liking in persuasion?

Show answer

Answer

The people who we like more, those we share similarities with, are able to persuade us more.

Show question

Question

What is the principle of authority in persuasion?

Show answer

Answer

People will be persuaded more by people in a position of authority

Show question

Question

What is the principle of scarcity in persuasion?

Show answer

Answer

We are more susceptible to persuasion when we are informed of the scarcity of something

Show question

Question

What is the principle of unity in persuasion?

Show answer

Answer

Belonging to a group and that we will be persuaded more effectively in order to fit in with that group

Show question

Question

What is the foot in the door technique?

Show answer

Answer

Asking with a small request at first, then building up to bigger ones

Show question

Question

What is the door in the face technique?

Show answer

Answer

Asking with a big request at first knowing it's going to get rejected, then asking for your actual request

Show question

Question

What is self-perception theory?

Show answer

Answer

When people observe their own actions and then form their attitude to match that behavior

Show question

Question

Why does the person who is persuading matter?

Show answer

Answer

People who are more socially and physically attractive will be more persuasive. Also, those who are knowledgeable in their field will be more persuasive. 

Show question

Question

Why does how someone phrases their persuasive statement matter?

Show answer

Answer

People who share both sides of an argument will be more persuasive. Also, people who phrase their statement to be scary will be more persuasive. 

Show question

Question

Does it matter who is being persuaded?

Show answer

Answer

Yes! Women will be more easily persuaded in public

Show question

Question

True or false. Persuasion is an unintentional action.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

According to this principle of persuasion, we are more susceptible to persuasion when we are informed of the ______ of something.

Show answer

Answer

scarcity

Show question

Question

A student who is trying to convince his teacher to cancel their homework has:

Show answer

Answer

A lower chance of success

Show question

Question

True or false. When trying to persuade someone, it would be in your best interest to explain both sides of the argument.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

True or false. Phrasing your thoughts in a way intended to scare people has also been found to be effective.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

A salesman introduces a new product to a couple. Who has a better chance of being swayed?

Show answer

Answer

The wife

Show question

Question

The foot in the door technique proves to be successful because of:

I. The building up of the requests

II. Self-perception

III. Fear

IV. Authority

Show answer

Answer

I and II

Show question

Question

Jane is invited to her best friend's wedding, but that day is also the birthday party of one of her coworkers. Based on the liking principle, whose event is she most likely to agree to attend?

Show answer

Answer

her best friend's wedding

Show question

Question

Which principle of persuasion is used in ads for products that say "limited edition"?

Show answer

Answer

Scarcity

Show question

Question

You and some friends are at an amusement park. Most of your friends would instead go to the Ferris wheel first, but you want to ride the roller coaster first. In the end, you chose to join them. What principle of persuasion does this show?

Show answer

Answer

Unity

Show question

Question

Studies have shown that people who are _____ and _____ engaging and superior will be more successful in their persuasion.

Show answer

Answer

physically and socially

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Persuasion quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.