This is an excerpt from one of my favorite books, and a classic on persuasion,  Influence by Robert Cialdini. The idea that underlays the entire book is that humans have certain evolutionary triggers that can be activated. They occurs because there is so much information out there that we can’t take all of it in, so our brains have created these frameworks that speed things up by just causes a reflex type reaction. In the book, this reaction is called “Click, Whirr”.  The influence triggers can be used for good or evil, but the most important part is to be aware of them and to understand when you are being influenced.

The book is full of examples and you should read it, the six principles of persuasion are:

  • Reciprocation – People are more likely to comply with a request if you have provided something for them first.
  • Commitment/Consistency- People are more willing to be moved a particular direction if they see it as being consistent with existing or recent commitment.
  • Authority-people more willing to follow the directions and recommendations of someone they as in position of power or expertise.
  • Scarcity-people want things more when the availability is dwindling or decreasing.
  • Social Validation – people more willing to take a recommended action if they see that other people are doing it
  • Liking/Friendship- People prefer to say yes to those they know and like.

One of the morals from the book is to always trust your gut feeling.


“From Page 10…

Turkey mothers are good mothers—loving, watchful, and protective. They spend much of their time tending, warming, cleaning, and huddling their young beneath them; but there is something odd about their method. Virtually all of this mothering is triggered by one thing: the “cheep-cheep” sound of young turkey chicks. Other identifying features of the chicks, such as their smell, touch, or appearance, seem to play minor roles in the mothering process. If a chick makes the cheep-cheep noise, its mother will care for it; if not, the mother will ignore or sometimes kill it.
The extreme reliance of maternal turkeys upon this one sound was dramatically illustrated by animal behaviorist M. W. Fox (1974) in his description of an experiment involving a mother turkey and a stuffed polecat. For a mother turkey, a polecat is a natural enemy whose approach is to be greeted with squawking, pecking, clawing rage. Indeed, the experiments found that even a stuffed model of a polecat, when drawn by a string to a mother turkey, received an immediate and furious attack. When, however, the same stuffed replica carried inside it a small recorder that played the cheep-cheep sound of baby turkeys, the mother not only accepted the oncoming polecat but gathered it underneath her. When the machine was turned off, the polecat model again drew a vicious attack.
How ridiculous a mother turkey seems under these circumstances: She will embrace a natural enemy just because it goes cheep-cheep and she will mistreat or murder one of her chicks just because it does not. She acts like an automaton whose maternal instincts are under the automatic control of that single sound. The ethol-ogists tell us that this sort of thing is far from unique to the turkey. They have begun to identify regular, blindly mechanical patterns of action in a wide variety of species. Called fixed-action patterns, they can involve intricate sequences of behavior, such as entire courtship or mating rituals. A fundamental characteristic of these patterns is that the behaviors comprising them occur in virtually the same fashion and in the same order every time. It is almost as if the patterns were recorded on tapes within the animals. When a situation calls for courtship, a courtship tape gets played; when a situation calls for mothering, a maternal behavior tape gets played. Click and the appropriate tape is activated; whirr and out rolls the standard sequence of behaviors.”

If you are interested in getting the book, it can be found by clicking here or on the image below.