Robert Cialdini

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Robert Cialdini
Born (1945-04-27) April 27, 1945 (age 71)
Occupation Psychologist, Author, Speaker, Professor

Robert Beno Cialdini (born April 27, 1945) is the Regents' Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University and was a visiting professor of marketing, business and psychology at Stanford University, as well as at the University of California at Santa Cruz.[1][2] He is best known for his 1984 book on persuasion and marketing, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The book has sold over three million copies and has been translated into thirty languages.[3] It has been listed on the New York Times Best Seller list; additionally, Fortune lists the book in their "75 Smartest Business Books".[4]

One of Cialdini's other books, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, was a New York Times Bestseller; and another of his books, The Small BIG: Small changes that spark a big influence, was a Times Book of the year.[5] Cialdini's most-recent book is Pre-suasion, which was published in 2016.


Dr. Cialdini received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin in June 1967. He then went on to Graduate studies in Social Psychology at the University of North Carolina and earned his Ph.D. in June 1970 and received Postgraduate training in Social Psychology at Columbia University. He has held Visiting Scholar Appointments at Ohio State University, the University of California, the Annenberg School of Communications, and the Graduate School of Business of Stanford University. Currently, Dr. Cialdini is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University.[6]

Theory of influence[edit]

Cialdini's theory of influence is based on six key principles: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, scarcity.[7]

Six key principles of influence[edit]

  1. Reciprocity – People tend to return a favor, thus the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing. In his conferences, he often uses the example of Ethiopia providing thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after the 1985 earthquake, despite Ethiopia suffering from a crippling famine and civil war at the time. Ethiopia had been reciprocating for the diplomatic support Mexico provided when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. The good cop/bad cop strategy is also based on this principle.
  2. Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because of establishing that idea or goal as being congruent with their self-image. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honor the agreement. Cialdini notes Chinese brainwashing of American prisoners of war to rewrite their self-image and gain automatic unenforced compliance. Another example is children being made to repeat the Pledge of Allegiance each morning.
  3. Social Proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic. See conformity, and the Asch conformity experiments.
  4. Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts. Cialdini cites incidents such as the Milgram experiments in the early 1960s and the My Lai massacre.
  5. Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them. Some of the many biases favoring more attractive people are discussed. See physical attractiveness stereotype.
  6. Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a "limited time only" encourages sales.

His 1984 book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, was based on three "undercover" years applying for and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion. It has been mentioned in 50 Psychology Classics.[8][9]

Selected publications[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ University, Arizona State. "ASU Staff Directory: Robert Cialdini". ASU.EDU. Retrieved June 29, 2015. 
  2. ^ University, Stanford. "ASU Staff Directory: Bob Cialdini". Stanford.EDU. Retrieved July 29, 2015. 
  3. ^ Josephson, Brady (April 22, 2015). "6 Principles of Influence You Can Use For Your Cause". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 29, 2015. 
  4. ^ Useem, Jerry (March 21, 2005). "The Smartest Books We Know – March 21, 2005". Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  5. ^ New York Times. "New York Times Best Seller List October, 2008". New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  6. ^ Cialdini, Robert. "Cirriculum Vitae" (PDF). Robert Cialdini Bureau Friendly. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Cialdini, Robert (2009). Influence: Science and Practice. Boston, MA: Pearson Education. ISBN 0-205-60999-6. 
  8. ^ Schaefer, Mark (2012). Return On Influence. McGraw-Hill. 
  9. ^ Butler-Bowdon, Tom (2010). 50 Psychology Classics. Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85788-386-2. Retrieved June 29, 2015. 

External links[edit]