Notes On A Powerful Influence Tool

Have you ever wanted to be able to move others in a direction more easily? In Robert Cialdini’s best selling book, Influence, he presents his findings as a researcher in some of the key “weapons of influence”. These are techniques that he has studied that influence human behavior. I read this book back in 2015 and am currently revisiting the audio-book – this second time through is no less, dare I say, influential.

The chapter I was listening to this week is focused on reciprocity.

Cialdini sites two examples you may be familiar with which I will highlight here (he also provides other examples + lab results I will not discuss here).

Reciprocity in action example 1: in a grocery store, shoppers are more likely to buy a product if they have received a free sample – even if they don’t personally like the product that is being sold.

Reciprocity in action example 2: with donations, organizations are more likely to receive donations for their mail campaigns when they send a “free gift” along with their message – even if it is trivial (piece of candy, small gift card, etc.)

Being social creatures, Cialdini argues, we feel a deep innate need to settle our indebtedness. This is what makes reciprocity so powerful.

A personal example:

Most people who know me well would describe me as frugal. Yet, I find myself making frivolous purchases from time to time – mainly when they are produced and/or supported by a podcaster I listen to. Upon reflection, I justify the purchase as “supporting” someone who has put out countless hours of free content. Translation: I feel the need to reciprocate for what they have provided me.

This is part of the power behind the creator economy.

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