Derek Sivers

Pre-Suasion - by Robert Cialdini

Pre-Suasion - by Robert Cialdini

ISBN: 1501109790
Date read: 2019-07-23
How strongly I recommend it: 6/10
(See my list of 200+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

An interesting look at a single topic: what someone encounters beforehand greatly affects the influence of what comes after. Priming.

my notes

Pre-suasion: the process of arranging for recipients to be receptive to a message before they encounter it.
Pre-suasion: the human tendency to assign undue levels of importance to an idea as soon as one’s attention is turned to it.

What we present first changes the way people experience what we present to them next.

Just putting a large number in their head:
The amount of money people said they’d be willing to spend on dinner went up when the restaurant was named Studio 97, as opposed to Studio 17.

Top-performing salesman did only one thing different - built trust like this:
“Oh, I forgot some really important information in my car, would you mind if I let myself out and back into your home?”
The answer was always some form of “Sure, go ahead.”
Oftentimes it required giving him a door key.
“Who do you let walk in and out of your house on their own? Only somebody you trust, right? I want to be associated with trust in those families’ minds.”

Trainees are informed that persuasion is approached differently in their particular profession than in related professions. Distinctions were stressed even within professions.
But they didn’t focus enough on an extraordinarily useful other question: What’s the same?

Organizations should steer sharply away from unethical persuasive practices, because those practices will lend themselves to the attraction and retention of employees who find cheating acceptable and who will ultimately cheat the organization.

The factor most likely to determine a person’s choice in a situation is often not the one that offers the most accurate or useful counsel; instead, it is the one that has been elevated in attention (and thereby in privilege) at the moment of decision.

If people see themselves giving special attention to some factor, they become more likely to think of it as a cause.

Palm readers’ subjects seek their mind for the trait suggested.
“quite a stubborn individual, someone who resists being pressured in a direction you don’t want to go.”
This will have focused you on the trait of stubbornness, sending you down a single psychological chute constructed unfairly to confirm it.
Here’s how it would work: to test if I were right, you’d automatically begin searching your memory for times when you’d acted stubbornly - only for those times - and you’d almost certainly come upon a ready instance, as mulishness under pressure is a frequent personal failing. If you extended this biased search further, you’d hit on other, similar occurrences.

Positive test strategy: in deciding whether a possibility is correct, people typically look for hits rather than misses; for confirmations of the idea rather than for disconfirmations.
It is easier to register the presence of something than its absence.

Be suspicious if a pollster wants to know only whether you are dissatisfied with something - as well of the one who asks only if you are satisfied.
Much better are those that use two-sided questions: “How satisfied or dissatisfied are you?”

Cult recruiters often begin by asking if they are unhappy
“Well, if you’re unhappy, you’d want to change that, right?”

A marketer could greatly increase the chance of finding survey participants by beginning with a particular pre-suasive opener: asking people if they considered themselves helpful.
Nearly everyone answered yes.
Now 77.3 percent volunteered.
(a desire for consistency)

It’s not necessary to alter anything at all except what’s prominent in that person’s mind at the moment of decision.

97% consider themselves adventurous.

People rightly believe that what they choose to attend to (or away from) reflects what they value at the time.

Whatever we can do to focus people on something - an idea, a person, an object - makes that thing seem more important to them than before.

People assign more significance to the things they see themselves choosing to move toward.
Speaking quietly, making someone lean in to hear, makes them feel it's more important.

Reducing the distance to an object makes it seem more worthwhile.

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.

The media persuade indirectly, by giving selected issues and facts better coverage than other issues and facts.
That leads the audience to decide that these are the most important issues.
The press may not be successful most of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling them what to think about.

The persuader who artfully draws outsize attention to the most favorable feature of an offer becomes a successful pre-suader.

Mattress seller website focused visitors’ attention to the goal of comfort merely by placing fluffy clouds on the background.

Distraction: Environmental noise reduces the ability to learn and perform cognitive tasks.

Distraction: Classrooms with heavily decorated walls reduce the test scores of young children.

The more consideration people give to something, the more extreme (polarized) their opinions of it become.

“Satisficing” is a term coined by economist and Nobel laureate Herbert Simon - to serve as a blend of the words satisfy and suffice.
Two simultaneous goals of a chooser when facing a decision - to make it good and to make it gone.

Decision makers are infamous for concentrating on what a strategy could do for them if it succeeded…
…and not enough on what it could do to them if it failed.

Questions that often don’t arise by themselves:
What future events could make this plan go wrong?
What would happen to us if it did go wrong?

Hearing the same conversation, whomever’s face was more visible was judged to be more causal.

The best indicator of a breakup was how much they were regularly aware of and attentive to the hotties around them.

People in a wary state of mind are driven by a desire for safety. When they are scared, a popularity-based appeal will work, whereas a distinctiveness-based appeal will not.
People in an amorous state of mind are driven by a consequent desire to stand out, so the reverse will occur. When they are in that state, a popularity-based appeal will not work, and a distinctiveness-based appeal will.

On a task that we feel committed to performing, we will remember all sorts of elements of it better if we have not yet had the chance to finish, because our attention will remain drawn to it.
If we are engaged in such a task and are interrupted or pulled away, we’ll feel a discomforting, gnawing desire to get back to it.
That desire - which also pushes us to return to incomplete narratives, unresolved problems, unanswered questions, and unachieved goals - reflects a craving for cognitive closure.

Never finish a writing session at the end of a paragraph or even a thought.
Know precisely what you want to say at the end of that last paragraph or thought; just don’t allow yourself to say it until the next time.

Women were shown profiles of men who had, and some who hadn't, rated them.
Men whose ratings remained yet unknown kept popping up in the women’s minds.
Because regular attention to something makes it seem more worthy of attention, the women’s repeated refocusing on those guys made them appear the most attractive.

When an important outcome is unknown to people, “they can hardly think of anything else.”

Beginning each lecture with a mystery.
The most successful non-fiction pieces began with a mystery story.
The authors described a state of affairs that seemed perplexing and then invited the reader into the subsequent material as a way of dispatching the enigma.
Mystery stories were instructionally superior to the other, more common forms of teaching
Whereas descriptions require notice and questions require answers, mysteries require explanations.

Supply the following information in the following sequence:
1. Pose the Mystery.
2. Deepen the Mystery.
3. Home In on the Proper Explanation by Considering (and Offering Evidence Against) Alternative Explanations.
4. Provide a Clue to the Proper Explanation.
5. Resolve the Mystery.
6. Draw the Implication for the Phenomenon Under Study.

Mysteries attract audiences to the fine points of the information - because to resolve any mystery or detective story properly, observers have to be aware of all the relevant details.

The mysterious is so remarkable it could be labeled as both “the most beautiful thing we can experience” and “the source of all true science and art.”

The main purpose of speech is to direct listeners’ attention to a selected sector of reality.
Once that is accomplished, the listeners’ existing associations to the now-spotlighted sector will take over to determine the reaction.

Language is primarily a mechanism of influence; as a means for inducing recipients to share a communicator’s conception of reality. or, at least, to act in accord with it.
The main function of language is not to express or describe but to influence - something it does by channeling recipients to sectors of reality pre-loaded with a set of mental associations favorable to the communicator’s view.

If you want to change the world, change the metaphor.

In South Korea, the ads attempted to link products and services mostly to the reader’s family or group, whereas in America it was mostly to the individual reader.

The fluency-producing properties of rhyme lead to enhanced persuasion.

Writing style leans more popular in community places, and more academic when writing on campus.
I needed present reminders of my prospective audience members to keep my writing aligned with their interests and communication styles.

80 percent of all medical students are afflicted by this disorder, in which they experience the symptoms of whatever disease they happen to be learning about at the time and become convinced that they have contracted it.

Seniors have decided that they just don’t have time for negativity. They take deliberate steps to achieve emotional contentment by mastering the geography of self-influence. The elderly go more frequently and fully to the locations inside and outside themselves populated by mood-lifting personal experiences.
Seniors recall positive memories, entertain pleasant thoughts, seek out and retain favorable information, search for and gaze at happy faces, and focus on the upsides of their consumer products.

Manageable activities that reliably increase personal happiness:
1. Count your blessings and gratitudes at the start of every day, and then give yourself concentrated time with them by writing them down.
2. Cultivate optimism by choosing beforehand to look on the bright side of situations, events, and future possibilities.
3. Negate the negative by deliberately limiting time spent dwelling on problems or on unhealthy comparisons with others.

The elderly have decided to prioritize emotional contentment as a main life goal and, therefore, to turn their attentions systematically toward the positive.
Younger individuals have different primary life goals that include learning, developing, and striving for achievement.
Accomplishing those objectives requires a special openness to discomforting elements: demanding tasks, contrary points of view, unfamiliar people, and owning mistakes or failures.
It makes sense, then, that in early and middle age, it can be so hard to turn our minds away from tribulations.
To serve our principal aims at those times, we need to be receptive to the real presence of negatives in order to learn from and deal with them.

Smarter in a general sense:
generating good ideas
spotting flawed arguments
making perceptive comments
offering clarifying insights

You can’t think straight when you’re scared.

You’re much more persistent when you’re confident in your abilities.

Mental activity: its elements don’t just fire when ready; they fire when readied.

After we attend to a specific concept, those concepts closely linked to it enjoy a privileged moment within our minds.
Once an opener concept (German music, weight) receives our attention, closely associated secondary concepts (German wine, substance) become more accessible in consciousness, which greatly improves the chance that we will attend and respond to the linked concepts.

Formulate an if/when-then plan - for example, “If/when, after my business lunches, the server asks if I’d like to have dessert, then I will order mint tea.”
We become prepared, first, to notice the favorable time or circumstance and, second, to associate it automatically and directly with desired conduct.

Will we be leaves in the wind, blown here and there by powerful associations to the cues we happen to encounter? The answer depends on whether we’ve noticed the breeze.

Individuals surveyed by phone reported themselves 20 percent more satisfied with their existence - as a whole - when asked on sunny days compared with rainy days.
But if the interviewer asked first, “By the way, how’s the weather over there?” the sunny-versus-rainy-day effect didn’t materialize at all.
Simply being focused on the weather for a moment, reminded the survey participants of its potentially biasing influence and allowed them to correct their thinking accordingly.

Prominence of product placements in episodes of the popular TV sitcom Seinfeld:
Survey respondents were least likely to select the products that had been inserted most prominently!
The conspicuousness of the placements cued viewers to the advertisers’ sly attempts to sway their preferences and caused a correction against the potential distortion.
Whereas the most subtly placed brands were chosen by 47 percent of the audience, only 27 percent picked the most prominently placed ones.
They are reminded of the source of the possible bias, so they act to rebalance the system.

Deconstruct the word remind into its constituent parts
To get them to put their minds on it again.

Ads perform better in late-hour slots when we don’t have the ability to think properly - perhaps because we are tired - we can’t rely on a balanced assessment of all the pros and cons to correct for an emotionally based choice we might regret later.
Viewers don’t have the mental energy to resist the ads’ emotional triggers

Although the typical interrogation lasts for less than an hour, interviews generating false confessions average sixteen hours.

We don't think well when fatigued.
Besides fatigue, when a person is rushed, overloaded, preoccupied, indifferent, stressed, distracted, or, it seems, a conspiracy theorist.

Having insufficient time to analyze all the points of a communication:
the way the broadcast media operate, transmitting a swift stream of information that can’t be easily slowed or reversed to give us the chance to process it thoroughly.
Instead, we’re left to a focus on secondary features of the presentations, such as the attractiveness of the advertising spokesperson or the politician’s charisma.

If we want them to buy a box of expensive chocolates, first arrange for them to write down a number that’s much larger than the price of the chocolates.

If we want them to choose a bottle of French wine, expose them to French background music before they decide.

If we want them to agree to try an untested product, first inquire whether they consider themselves adventurous.

If we want to convince them to select a highly popular item, begin by showing them a scary movie.

If we want them to feel warmly toward us, hand them a hot drink.

If we want them to be more helpful to us, have them look at photos of individuals standing close together.

If we want them to be more achievement oriented, provide them with an image of a runner winning a race.

If we want them to make careful assessments, show them a picture of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker.

Communicators can be more effective by highlighting the idea of authority not just inside their message but inside the moment before their message.
In this pre-suasive way, audiences will become sensitized to (and thus readied for) the coming authoritative evidence in the message, making them more likely to pay attention to it, assign it importance, and, consequently, be influenced by it.

Reciprocation: People say yes to those they owe.
Cultures teach the rule from childhood and assign socially punishing names - freeloader, user, taker, parasite - to those who don’t give back after receiving.
Shoppers at a candy store became 42 percent more likely to make a purchase if they’d received a gift piece of chocolate upon entry.

To optimize the return, what we give first should be experienced as meaningful, unexpected, and customized.
After offering guests one chocolate from her basket and turning to walk away, she unexpectedly returned to the table and offered a second chocolate to each diner.
As a result, her average tip improved by 21.3 percent.

Waitresses coached to mimic the verbal style of customers doubled their tips.

To highlight similarities and provide compliments increases liking and assent.

I can live for two months on a good compliment.

Similarities and compliments cause people to feel that you like them, and once they come to recognize that you like them, they’ll want to do business with you.
People trust that those who like them will try to steer them correctly.
Show customers that you genuinely like them.

Restaurant labeled the items as “most popular” dishes.
Each dish became 13 percent to 20 percent more popular.

“The medium is the message” - the idea that the channel through which information is sent is a form of consequential messaging itself, which affects how recipients experience content.

A communicator who references a weakness early on is immediately seen as more honest.

Scarcity : We want more of what we can have less of.

If you wake a multimillionaire client at five in the morning and say, ‘If you act now, you will gain twenty thousand dollars,’ he’ll scream at you and slam down the phone.
But if you say, ‘If you don’t act now, you will lose twenty thousand dollars,’ he’ll thank you.

Promotions that included a purchase limit (“Only x per customer”) more than doubled sales.

Communicators who can get us to take a pre-suasive step, even a small one, in the direction of a particular idea or entity will increase our willingness to take a much larger, congruent step when asked. The desire for consistency will prompt it.

Having a compelling case to make is not the same as making a case compellingly.

Warren Buffett demonstrates that he is, first, fully aware of problems inside the company and, second, fully willing to reveal them.
He describes a mistake he’s made or a problem the company has encountered during the past year and examines the implications for future outcomes.
“I will tell you what I would say to my family today if they asked me about Berkshire’s future.”
Mr. Buffett had me at “family”.

When people observe their parents caring for the needs of another in the home, they also experience a family-like feeling and become more willing to give to that other.
Children who see their parents open their homes to a range of differing people should be more likely, as adults, to help strangers.
For them, we-ness should reach beyond their immediate or extended family and apply to the human family as well.
Parents who want their children to develop a broadly charitable nature: give them contact in the home with individuals from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and treat those individuals there like family.

Anything too stupid to be spoken is sung.

Managers led to believe that they’d had a large role in developing the end product (an ad for a new wristwatch) rated the ad 50 percent more favorably than did managers led to believe they’d had little developmental involvement - even though the final ad they saw was identical.

Providing advice puts a person in a merging state of mind, which stimulates a linking of one’s own identity with another party’s.
Providing an opinion or expectation, on the other hand, puts a person in an introspective state of mind, which involves focusing on oneself.
These only slightly different forms of consumer feedback can have a significant impact on consumer engagement with a brand.

When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice.