MiB: Robert Cialdini on Persuasion



This week, we speak with Social Psychologist Robert Cialdini, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University. He is the author of the book Influence, which has sold over 5 million copies in 30 languages. The latest revision is out Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion.

The genesis of Influence was Cialdini as a Social Psychology grad student, running laboratory experiments on college students. He decided to explore the natural world to see what causes one person to say “Yes” to another. He began to take training undercover in as many of the influence professions as he could get access to by signing up to be a trainee. He learned what professions do to get people to sign on the bottom line, including selling automobiles off of a lot, insurance from a desk, portrait photography by phone; he also worked with advertising copyrighters to see how they influence consumers, how charities get people to donate and what recruiters do to get people to enlist.

Cialdini found 6 commonalities in all of these fields: Reciprocity, commitment & consistency, social proof, authority, liking, scarcity.

After Charlie Munger read Influence, he reached out to Cialdini to thank him, sending a hand-written letter saying, “Warren and I have read your books, we’ve made hundreds of millions of dollars. This is our way of saying thanks.” The letter included Munger’s personal phone number, accompanied by included a single share of Berkshire Hathaway’s A-share. That single share was worth about $70,000 then, and today trades at over $412,000.

A list of his favorite books is here; A transcript of our conversation is available here.

You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business next week with Joe Moglia, who is the former chairman and CEO of TD Ameritrade (now part of Schwab), as well as former Head Coach of the football team at Coastal Carolina University.



Robert Cialdini’s Favorite Books

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Rhetoric by Aristotle

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari


Robert Cialdini’s Authored Books

Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini

Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah Goldstein, Steve Martin, and Robert Cialdini

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