Dla tego filmu nie wygenerowano opisu.
Welcome to the latest episode of Idea Lab. We're lucky today to be joined by Bob Cialdini, who's Regents Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University. Bob, welcome. Well, thank you, Eric. I'm very pleased to be here. You are the author of a wonderful new book called Presuasion, which follows another book from 20 years ago, 30 years ago, called Influence, which is really one of the canonical books about why people make the decisions they make. It's taught in psychology courses around the world and clever marketers use it as well in their business.
Could you walk us back to Influence, which is kind of the foundation for Presuasion, and tell us about how the books differ from each other, how you did the research for each of them, and where they take you? All my life I've been a sucker. I've been a patsy for the appeals of various fundraisers or salespeople who've come to my door. And I would stand in unwanted possession of tickets to the Sanitation Workers' Ball, subscriptions to Beekeepers Digest. And I always thought to myself, how did this happen? Because I didn't want these things on their merit. It must have been the presentation of those things that got me to say yes to them.
Isn't that interesting? Let me study this. Let's see how the Influence process works, not in terms of simply presenting the features, the benefits of a product or service or even an idea, but how we deliver those merits, those features that inclines people to want them. And so I began to study the process. Initially, as a behavioral scientist, I realized that if I were to truly understand how this worked outside of laboratory situations and college campuses where I was studying them, I needed to get into the real world where people are fighting the Influence Wars every day. So salesmen. Salespeople. Persuaders. Politicians.
Marketers, politicians, public relations specialists, fundraisers, recruiters, all these people whose business it is to get us to say yes to them. Well, they weren't going to just tell me what their secrets were. That's proprietary. So I began to infiltrate their training programs undercover. I began to answer ads, and I learned how to sell automobiles from a lot. I learned how to sell insurance from an office. I learned how to sell portrait photography from the phone, vacuum cleaners door to door. And in those training programs, I looked for the principles of influence that were successful across the widest range of those circumstances.
And what I found surprised me in that there were only six, six universal principles that every successful influence profession employed. One was reciprocity. People want to say yes to those who have given to them first. There was a recent study that showed when customers came into a candy store, if they were given a gift of chocolate at the beginning, they were 42% more likely to buy in that store because they felt obligated to give back to someone who had given to them. Another is liking.
We prefer to say yes to those we know and like, but how does someone achieve liking? One thing that we learned negotiators can do is to find a commonality, something that's similar with their negotiation opponent, bring that to the surface and they get a better deal. They get more grace in the negotiation because they're liked more as a consequence. A third is authority. Of course, we prefer to say yes to those individuals who can give us evidence that they are competent, they have credentials, they have experience in a particular arena. And another is social proof. The idea that if a lot of our peers are doing something, it's probably a good choice for us.
So if we get information that this is the fastest growing or the largest selling, I saw an article of a study that was done in Beijing shows you the cross-cultural reach of this. A restaurant manager, a restaurant owner can significantly increase the likelihood that people will choose a particular dish from the menu by adding a small addition to the menu description in each case. And it's not the one you would think, this is the specialty of our house or this is our chef's selection for the evening. No, it's a little asterisk that says this is one of our most popular items and each one immediately becomes 13 to 20 percent more popular.
So that is social proof. That's social proof. What are the other people? And what I love about that study, it was entirely honest, it was entirely costless, and it produced a 13 to 20 percent increase in choice. We all have most popular models or options say that at the outset first and that presuades people to pay attention to it and to decide to try. The fifth principle is scarcity. We want those things that are scarce, rare, dwindling in availability, not easily accessible. One study showed that in a supermarket, if the supermarket put underneath a brand only X items per customer, they doubled purchasing. Scarcity. Scarcity.
And then finally it's commitment and consistency. We want to be consistent with what we have already said or done publicly. So if we can ask people to take a small step in our direction, they'll be more likely to stay consistent with that because they've already made a commitment toward our product, our service, our idea. What's an example? Doctors offices, there is a problem with no shows. People who make an appointment and then don't appear. It's very expensive for the healthcare system.
If instead of giving a patient the date and time on a little appointment card at the end of every appointment, you give that patient a blank card and have him or her write in the date or time. No shows drop 18% because they've made an active public commitment to that time instead of being given something foisted on them. That is amazing. Now when you wrote persuasion, you took a step farther and looked at it from the point of view of the actual persuaders. And let me summarize if I could what I took away as the fundamental point of persuasion when borrowing some of your own language here.
Who we are when it comes to making any choice is highly determined by where our attention is in the moment before we make the choice. Now if you think of yourself as a rational decision maker, that's a hard concept to swallow. But persuasion, the book is full of amazing anecdotes that illustrate that point. Now if there was one anecdote that you thought was kind of the canonical anecdote of persuasion, the one that really has illustrated the importance of attention before you make a decision, what would that anecdote be? It would be the story of a study that was done by an online furniture store.
They had various kinds of sofas, some of which were more comfortable, others that were priced well. They were inexpensive. They wanted to sell more of their comfortable furniture. There was a larger profit margin associated with that. So they did a little experiment. Half of the visitors to their site were sent to a landing page that had fluffy clouds in the background. Associated with comfort, those individuals rated comfort as a more important feature in their decisions about what to buy. They searched the site. They went into the site and prioritized information about comfort. And ultimately they preferred to purchase a more comfortable sofa.
Just because the landing page had that image of fluffy clouds? Because their attention was drawn to the idea of comfort, which was associated with certain kinds of sofas. Now just to be sure that that was the real cause, they sent another group of visitors to a landing page that had pennies, coins, money in the background. Those people now rated cost as the most important feature for them. They searched the site for price relevant features and they preferred to buy more inexpensive furniture. That's the idea of persuasion.
What we do first, before we ever present to people the message itself, the content of what we have to offer, we put them in a frame of mind that prioritizes the strongest feature of our case. So if we think comfort is the thing that's our strength, we need to provide some sort of image or message or even a saying, an adage that has to do with comfort that would draw attention to that concept. And then the wheels will just be in motion and they will take that person to where we want that person to go inside our message.
One of the things about the book that was incredibly persuasive to me was the fact that I could place myself in the anecdotes that you told about how persuasion works. I could actually look back on an experience I had and say, that's right, that happened to me and I had no idea. One of those that was most telling was the way the military and the U. S. government, perhaps inadvertently, focused everyone's attention during the Iraq War on individual soldiers and away from perhaps the strategy of the war. Tell us about that. When the U. S. invaded Iraq, there was something that was agreed upon with the major news reporting services and the U. S.
military. And that is, the U. S. military would allow certain reporters to be embedded with the troops. That is, to live with them, to eat with them, to go into the field with them. And so they reported from the standpoint of what was going on with the war, how the war was being fought, not why it was being fought. So during that time, all the front page messaging for the war in Iraq was about the food that was being offered, the training, the equipment, the personal stories of the soldiers, the act of soldiering, the courage in battle. And that was what drew our attention as observers.
How is the war being fought? And that was the thing that allowed initial support to burgeon for that invasion, not the geopolitical rationale for the war. Why it was being fought was not at the top of our consciousness. We got shunted to the hows of the war rather than the whys of the war. And that was a very positive public relations move on the part of the Bush administration. You're very good. The power of prior attention manifests itself in ways that are hard to imagine. They're so far-reaching.
One of them is that the power of prior attention tends to focus people in a way that makes them think that the factor they're paying attention to is the cause of the result that they see, even when it clearly can't be. Could you give me an example of that? There's a way to characterize this by saying what's focal is perceived as causal. What we are paying attention to normally in our environment is those things that are causes, those things that are causing the activity in our environment. So when someone draws our attention to a factor, we make the mistake of assuming, oh, because I'm paying attention to it, it must be the cause.
But in fact, that's not the case. We can be drawn to that focus, and we make the mistake of thinking, oh, this must be the cause. There's some interesting research in the realm of athletics. Those players and teams that are wearing distinctively colored uniforms get perceived as the cause of various effects and outcomes inside a match or a game by the referees, because the referee's attention is being drawn simply by the colors and distinctiveness of the uniforms that they're wearing. So we make this error, but it's an enormously impactful recognition for anybody who wants to be a communicator.
Do you want a particular aspect of what you have to offer as being seen as the causal driver of activity or choice? Draw attention to that aspect, that feature. People will perceive it as the cause and be more willing to react as a consequence. In your book, you elaborate on what's focal is causal phenomenon, and you go into a tangent that I found really interesting, which was about false confessions. You come away with acknowledging what's focal is causal with a prescription for what to do if you're ever arrested for a crime you're not guilty of.
How does that work? I'm so glad you asked this question, because I had to fight with my editor about getting this story in there, because it isn't in direct line, but it just makes the case in a way that almost took my breath away. Oh, us editors are all the same. So here's the point. It is that when we are focused even on an individual, suppose you and I are talking, and there's a camera angle that's focused on my face, I will be perceived as the more causal conversation partner here. If that camera angle is focused primarily on your face, you will be seen as the generator of the conversation, the tone, the style, the outcome of it.
Whoever is seen as focal is seen as causal. Well, this has implications for what happens in police interrogation rooms. When a suspect is being questioned, there is a camera in the room, usually, and it's almost exclusively over the shoulder of the police officer onto the face of the subject. When that video is viewed, and if the suspect has been tricked or coerced into making an incriminating statement, it doesn't matter to observers that that trick or coercion had occurred. The suspect is seen as the cause of that statement. If instead the camera is focused like this one, equally on both the interrogator and the suspect, then that mistake is no longer made.
So here's the implication that I think you were alluding to. Suppose one of your viewers was in an argument with a neighbor. The next day, the neighbor is found dead, and the police bring you in, and they clearly are suspecting that you were the one who was the perpetrator. There will be a camera over the interrogator's shoulder onto your face, and if that interrogator starts to use trickery or coercion or some form of deceit to get you to say things that sound incriminating, you will be at a severe disadvantage when the prosecuting attorney looks at that video, when the jury looks at it, when judges look at it.
They will assume that that confession came out of you, not out of the trickery of the interrogator. What should you do? If you sense that this isn't just for information, this is an interrogation, find the camera and move your chair. Don't allow yourself to be disadvantaged by the what's focal is causal error that humans regularly make. Two of the favorite tools of the advertising industry are fear. So, you know, if you don't buy Michelin tires, your family will die on the carpet. Or sex, which doesn't need any elaboration from me. But what advertisers often don't know is that those two tools work with very different kinds of pitches. Could you explain that? Yes.
There is a reason for us to want to be in a group when there is threat. There is safety in numbers. We are protected when we are part of a group. We did a study in which we showed subjects a scary movie. You know that movie, The Shining? Jack Nicholson and the Axe? We showed them that. In the middle of the movie, we stopped and showed them an ad for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
If we said a museum that's visited by over a million people a year, those people who were seeing the scary movie became significantly more likely to want to visit the museum than those who were seeing a romantic comedy. Because when you're afraid, you want to go with the group. So in a state of uncertainty or threat or fear, people will go to the message that says a lot of other people just like you have decided to do that. Okay, that's my safety. I'm in the group. But remember I said there were also some people who were seeing a romantic comedy. They were put in an amorous state of mind by this film.
The one that made them want to go there was the one that was scarcity based. It said, be one of the few on your block who have experienced this great museum. Now why would romance lend itself to being not in the crowd but being one of the few? Because when you are amorously inclined, you don't want to be in a lot of people. You want to be separate so that you are the sole object of affection. So depending on whether you are in a threat based or an amorously based state of mind, different advertising messages have different consequences. Wow, that is really great.
Another very powerful tool from the book was the power of mysteries or cliffhanger types of advertisements. Give me an example and explain why that works. Begin your message with a puzzle. How could it possibly be that even though we've only been in business for a year and a half, our sales have skyrocketed compared to our competitors? What could it be about us? Now you've got your audience leaning in to the next thing you say which is the strength of your message. In order to solve the mystery, and we all want to solve mysteries, there is this human tendency called need for closure. We need closure on the questions that are confronting us.
To get that closure, they have to pay attention to your message in order to solve the mystery. I learned how to do this in my classroom. When I saw the power of mystery stories, I started at the beginning of every lecture. I would start with a mystery. I would say, I'm going to give you something that is puzzling on its face. If you listen to the rest of this lecture here in class, at the end of the class, you will be able to solve this mystery. Typically, five minutes before the end of every class, I see the same thing happening among my students.
They start zipping up their backpacks, they start putting away their pens, they start closing up their laptops, they're poised, almost on the starting line ready for the bell to ring. None of that happened when I began with a mystery. Now, this is one of the things I try to do at the beginning of every major section of the books I write. I begin with a mystery, and no one has noticed it. No one has noticed that I use that particular device because the mystery grabs people by the collar and pulls them into the story. They're not thinking about devices.
They're thinking about the answer, what information do I need to get me to this answer? And if we arrange it correctly, the information they need is about the strengths of your case. That's what solves the mystery. Well, it worked on me. I read the book all the way through to the end. One of the principles of influence, as you said earlier in this session, was authority. And yet in pre-sweaging, you point out that counterarguments tend to be more powerful than arguments. And I wonder if that has implications for what we're seeing now in political campaigns, where negative ads tend to dominate.
Why does it work that way, and is that a correct interpretation of what's going on? It is correct. And the reason that counterarguments are more powerful than arguments is that they puncture the opponent's position and render the opponent either, on the one hand, not knowledgeable enough to have a full understanding of the situation, or, and this is the one that's most devastating, not honest enough to be telling you the whole truth. That interpretation doesn't just apply to the particular issue at hand. It applies to subsequent issues that your opponent would try to raise. If you've punctured his or her credibility, then that carries across the border to other issues. Very powerful.
It's a torpedo of undermining that person's credibility. And that's why counterarguments are so powerful. You've talked in the book about how environment can be a powerful pre-sweeter operating below the level of consciousness. Can you give us an example of how an environment can make a bigger difference than anyone realizes in the way they approach a task or make a decision? When we encounter a problem that just isn't yielding to the approaches that we've taken, we've tried to overcome it in a variety of ways, and so we need some creative, out-of-the-box thinking. So we call a meeting of our team for a brainstorming session.
What's a pre-suasive step we can take to increase significantly the likelihood of creative, out-of-the-box, open, expansive thinking. It is to move to a room with a high ceiling and glass walls, because in open, expansive spaces, people think in open, expansive ways. There's research that shows that people are more creative out of doors than inside. It's for the same reason. Out of doors, there are no limits. There are just open skies and spaces, so people get cued in that direction. There's a study done in France that makes this point about the power of place and the cues of a place that bring us to a particular way of thinking.
It was done in a shopping mall, and researchers had an attractive young man walk up to young women walking alone, stop them, give them a compliment, and say, you know, I wonder if you could give me your phone number. When they did so in front of a variety of different kinds of shops, a shoe store, a clothing boutique, a bakery, they had very low success. 13. 5% of the instances got a phone number. But if they asked in front of one particular kind of shop, success doubled. It was a flower store, because flowers are associated with romance.
And so, even though it was a risky thing to do, to give your phone number to a perfect stranger, when you're focused on romance, even in the background, it channels your attention. Remember that study with the furniture store. What seems more important changes, what you search for, and how you respond in that moment is based on where you have been directed attentionally in that moment, even in the background. Now, the interesting thing about this study was that when the researchers interviewed these women afterward and asked, so of all these stores, which of the products in those stores do you like better? And they said, it was the bakery. I like bakery more.
But bakery didn't produce phone numbers. Flowers did. Flowers are associated with romance. Cheese danish are not. All this happens on an unconscious level. I'm sure that there are many people who will read your book and say, well, that could never happen to me. I'm a very rational person. I can rise above it. And yet, one particular anecdote from your research that rocked you back on your heels shows that this is not just something that you might be acculturated to, like flowers and romance. It's something that's hardwired into our brain from an early age. Could you describe that? It was a study done in Belgium.
Researchers brought subjects into an experiment and showed them a series of photographs of household objects, toasters, blenders. And in the background of the photograph, there was a figure standing either alone, right, that was for a third of the subjects, saw that. Another third saw two figures standing apart from one another. A third of the subjects saw two figures standing shoulder to shoulder, together. In all of the cases, the researcher got up from the table and accidentally spilled a number of items onto the floor. And the question is, which of the subjects get down on their knees, help the researcher pick up these scattered items on the floor, spontaneously, without being asked? And there's no question.
If people have been put in mind of the concept of togetherness, they become more helpful. They're more willing to be cooperative and to be of assistance. Now, that's all consistent with what we've been talking about. That's not what took my breath away when I read this particular feature of the study. The subjects were 18 months old. They were babies. And this process is so fundamental, so primitive in us, that it works on 18-month-old children, and three times as many of them help after they've been exposed to the concept of togetherness. So you can't help but conclude that this is just the way we are built. That's exactly right.
We are built to be receptive to this kind of connection between what's in our attention and what we see as relevant for us to find it as important and relevant for us to act in ways that are consistent with. Let's end with something that is part of your research, part of your book, but will help people live better lives. And to that end, you quote the Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, who was asked to answer this question. What scientific concept, if appreciated properly, would most improve people's understanding of the world? It ties in with persuasion. How did Dr.
Kahneman answer that? It's interesting because he's normally associated with something called prospect theory, the idea that under conditions of uncertainty, we weight losses more heavily than the possibility of gains. He didn't mention that as the thing that he thought was most important for all of us to know, not the thing that won him the Nobel Prize. He said, nothing is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it. Something he called the focusing illusion and something that we've been alluding to in this conversation. While you are focused on something, while you are thinking about something, its importance in your mind jumps, just skyrockets.
And the downstream consequences of that are that you then search for something for information relevant to that particular concept and you act in ways that are appropriate with the now more important level of that concept in your mind. But nothing is as important as when you're paying attention to it. You easily rank things out of proportion to their true importance. That's right. We overvalue things that we are paying attention to. Bob, thank you very much. This has been fascinating. Thank you for watching. .